12 BattleGroup by nAWl43

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									12 Battlegroup, part of Thundersdawn



                                     BattleGroup
                         Part 12 of the Thundersdawn Series
                                  By Chaos_eternus


Prologue

        Disclosure: An event feared and anticipated by the forces of Stargate Command and
the Royal Space Service has been and gone.
        All that remains is the ruins and the clean-up.
        No-one was ready for it, the general public were being subtly prepared but a rogue
reporter, now erroneously believed dead, forced the issue, publishing proof of the existence
of the SGC and the RSS in a manner designed to punish those forces not just for the
effrontery of trying to hide information from reporters but for keeping the secret of what
happened to his beloved daughter, Colonel Pierce now host to Maktenos, Goa’uld Lord.
        His actions were made with little thought for the consequences to the general public,
his mind solely on vengeance, on punishment, on control. The results were catastrophic.
        Looting, rioting, protests, religious fervour and worse spread across the planet,
military uprisings destroyed several lesser nations and underneath this all, forces moved to
take advantage.
        Anubis sent his servant, Lord Iblis who corrupted the city of Paris, turning both its
citizens and much of the French army against the free peoples of the world through the use of
the mind controlling drug Nish’ta, in response British and German forces led a spearhead into
France in an attempt first to contain the corrupted units and citizens and then to liberate.
        But Iblis had placed his servants well and several regiments seconded to the UN were
ordered to reinforce his position against an ‘illegal’ invasion, this units too were mind-
controlled, corrupted as swiftly as they entered the cities boundaries.
        Paris was destroyed, immolated in nuclear fire, the Commander of the Allied
Liberation forces deeming the city unsalvageable, a move which allowed the bulk of the
forces under his command to be released to other tasks. By this time, religious fanatics had
almost seized control of the African Hellmouth, killing the bulk of the American and British
defenders, the cylons were already launching swift hit and run attacks against Earth and Iblis
had moved with the bulk of his forces to seize the London hellmouth.
        Stargate Command had been seized by Mr Pierce, the reporter employing the services
not just of several mercenary companies but of the dreaded Teraken order of assassins.
        The mountain was eventually retaken, but not before being damaged to the point of
uselessness, requiring a major rebuild before the base could be considered safe to enter, let
alone operational.
        The African Hellmouth was retaken and fortified, but thousands of troops gave their
lives in its defence, only a swift reinforcement by Free Jaffa forces prevented the final
collapse of the defences, arriving as the fight spread into the Allied base itself.
        Iblis unfortunately was reaping the benefits of the chaos both he and Pierce had sown,
having successfully seized the London Hellmouth, he found himself facing spirited but
ultimately weak opposition, the Royal Air Force units still within Great Britain having been
mostly annihilated in his first moves of the invasion of London and the Army being spread
over Africa, France and attempting to maintain order in a large number of cities found itself
stretched far too think to effectively respond.




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        The British were quick to recall as many units as they could as well as conscripting
everyone who could handle a gun. The Russians and the Free Jaffa were quick to send as
many people as they could to help retake the London Hellmouth, resulting in a massive airlift
operation into the many airports surrounding London.
        The Allied forces were quick to push the Goa’uld forces out of London itself but were
quick to realise they didn’t have the time to push Iblis’s forces all the way back into the base
Iblis had constructed over the hellmouth.
        The result was an ambitious airdrop, the Free Jaffa forces regrouped aboard their two
Ha’taks and forced a landing right next to Iblis’s base, whilst wave after wave of Paladin
transports moved Russian and British army and scratch company infantry to reinforce the
assault, effectively leap-frogging a large proportion of Iblis’s forces.
        Iblis was quick to retreat and abandon his position over the hellmouth when he
realized he could become trapped but by then he had already set the wheels for the
hellmouths opening in motion, nish’ta’d mages were actively attacking the ancient
Hellmouths seals under the protection of a strong shield. The allied forces launched a massive
assault with every unit they could gather together, eventually retaking the entire base apart
from the small but crucial area covered by the shield; they were aided by the last of Iblis’s
forces who turned against their master for the ‘illegal’ action of attempting to open a
hellmouth.
        The shield could not be breeched completely by the Tau’ri but the arrival of Agent
Frank Parker of the NSA gave the allies an option, he had possession of a book which told
the Devon Coven how to make the shield completely permeable to gases.
        The mages were destroyed by the detonation of several Fuel Air Explosive bombs
placed immediately adjacent to the shield, the gaseous explosives passing easily through the
shield before ignition.
        The mages work might not have been complete, but the wards sealing the hellmouth
had been severely weakened, the effects of this are yet to be seen.
        In the chaos following disclosure, Los Vegas, Buenos Aires, Vladivostock, Exeter and
Paris had been utterly destroyed, indeed, Exeter had been left a radioactive ruin, poisoning
the surrounding land for centuries to come and London was burning massively out of control.
        In the last days, the Tau’ri were finally able to complete the refit and construction of
several warships and the first Battlegroup was officially formed.


One

        “Fire!”
        Captain Jones sat forward in his command seat, the heavy plastics crackling loudly as
he moved, his restraints digging painfully into his shoulders, attempting to pull the eager
Captain back into his seat.
        The ship rocked, mildly, the motion swiftly noted by the internal sensors and
navigational controls, logged and flagged for attention. Unwanted motion in combat would
not be a good thing, it meant not only reduced control over the ship but this kind of
seesawing motion met a pattern the intelligent software had stored in its databases that was
associated with motion sickness, an impairment of crew efficiency.
        “Fire Aye!”
        Jones watched with eager eyes at the view revealed by the primary viewscreen, an
asteroid shattering before his very eyes under the force of the four forward bow mounted
Guass rifles.



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         He frowned, a stream of rounds had appeared to flash right past the asteroid, a clear
miss, he turned to question Lieutenant Hayes, his tactical officer, but she was already
speaking.
         “Sir, computer indicates port outer may be misaligned, request permission to align”
         “Granted, of course,” Jones turned back to the screen, leaning backwards in his seat,
his eagerness slightly dispelled by the problem, minor though it was.
         A red line appeared across the screen, pointing to the side of a large, regular almost
rugby shaped asteroid, the computer overlaying onto the screen the path of the beam of light
from the alignment laser fixed to the very tip of the ship on a fixed, unmoving mount.
         Jones glanced upwards, his eyes following the large ships status display positioned
just above the main viewer, lights blinking as thrusters fired, the helm carefully matching the
asteroids course, slowing moving the laser closer towards the asteroid.
         After five minutes of jockeying, the line of light finally intersected the asteroid and
stayed pointing at its bulk. The reprehensive line on the screen blinked yellow then settled on
green, the computer signalling it had accepted the target and was ready for alignment.
         The effected gauss rifle fired, a single round, a highly expensive transmitter round
used only when you needed to track the path of an object fired from the guns, the sheer bulk
of its expense caused by the need to create electronics that would survive and function
despite the extreme acceleration forced on the rounds by the gauss rifles.
         Two lines appeared on the screen, a yellow line indicating the path the round should
have taken, a red indicating the path actually followed, both were clearly separate. The
weapon was misaligned.
         “Bloody shipyards boys, too rushed to finish the job properly,”
         Jones nodded at the muttered words from the helm, the short, slightly oriental looking
officer sitting at the post had a point of sorts, but…
         “Not the yardboys fault that everything has been hurried, they do the best they can
with what they are given as will we Lieutenant Holst”
         The reprimand in his words was mild, but Holst reacted to it none the less, turning
back to his console with a slight blush.
         Jones waited, he knew the computer was very carefully triple checking alignment
calculations and preparing commands for the array of small motors and actuators which made
minor adjustments on the gauss rifle in question.
         Twenty seconds passed, then the weapon fired again, this time the asteroid was hit,
the round pulverised on impact, leaving a visible pock mark on its surface but it was still a
miss.
         A further twenty seconds passed, then the rifle fired again. Clean hit, the yellow and
red lines of the rounds expected and actual paths overlaying each other impeccably.
         Jones nodded, “double check alignment, three rounds”
         “Double check alignment, use three rounds aye sir,” Hayes responded, her fingers
already dancing across her controls for the max sure test.
         “And while you’re at it, run two rounds through each battery, yard boys were
supposed to have tested alignment already but if they missed one…” Jones grimaced, “pass
word to the other new launch vessels too, just in case”
         “Alignment check all batteries and alert fleet aye Captain,” Hayes responded again,
sending a significant nod towards the Ops console and the dark skinned Sub-Lieutenant
stationed there. It was Ops job to deal with transmissions after all.
          Jones watched satisfied as all six gauss batteries tested clear, only the rear port
battery needing some minor adjustment, the pulse laser batteries he ordered tested too, an
event which Jones noted with quite some annoyance and with a definite intent to send a



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strongly worded message to Commodore Peters about. He knew they were rushed off their
feet and overworked but getting two thirds of the pulse batteries misaligned could be fatal.
        Then came the final test, the one he had been longing to try out ever since he had
heard he would be getting one.
        “Well children,” he grinned, clapping his hands together happily, like a boy set loose
in the toy store, “let’s run out Long Tom shall we?”
        Long Tom was an Ion cannon, a weapon derived from Tollan technologies the
survivors had grudgingly provided and assisted the Tau’ri in the development of after the
rescue of the Tollan survivors during Enerina’s escape to tau’ri space.
        The weapon was by no means perfect, the version mounted upon his ship was twice as
large as intended and drew some serious power to operate, but was, in theory the most
devastating weapon in the Tau’ri armoury. In all bar one aspect it was still far inferior to the
now destroyed Tollan made batteries; its only advantage was that unlike the Tollan versions,
it had a certain amount of frequency variance. That meant the ancient trick of focusing all the
energies of your shields on the specific frequency of the enemies weapons would not, in
theory work against the Tau’ri built weapons as they had the Tollan. The result there had
been the appearance of shields invulnerable to the weapons being used against them.
         And the first unit mounted onto a warship had just been dubbed Long Tom by its
Captain.
        The ship shook, the computer logging every slight move of the ship, the path of the
beam, its effectiveness, any bleed off and a million and one other details that might perhaps
be useful in improving the designs of both ships and weapons even as Britannica’s bridge
crew dissolved in startled gasps and whoops of excitement as before their eyes, a single blast
from the massive weapon tore their target asteroid in two.


Two

        “Negotiations broke down between China and the other starfaring nations due to
what President Hayes has denounced as unreasonable and contemptuous demands by the
Chinese Government. Exactly which demands his is decrying is unknown, but we do know
however that China has not only been pushing for reparations from Stargate Command and
the British Royal Space Service for drawing the world into this war, but for technologies and
perhaps most tellingly, it is rumoured that China has been calling for an executive veto on all
actions a combined space force would carry out.
        Neither Stargate Command nor the Royal Space Service would work under such a
demand, a point that Hammond repeatedly forced down the throats of the corrupt NID prior
to there dismantlement by government forces, but that doesn’t matter to the Chinese
government who are using the failure to encourage fierce nationalism amongst the
population, citing the failure to there people as being due to the American and British refusal
to accept ‘reasonable consequences for their actions’
        In related news, the Chinese government has announced a significant increase in the
military budget”

       “Under the watchful eyes of Allied troops, the French population goes to the polls
today under heavy security as the first moves are made to restore Democracy to a nation that
has been under occupation rule for several months.
       But any government that takes over is going to be in trouble, they will have to find a
new home for a start, choose a new capital and build the bulk of the central government
buildings from scratch.


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        They will have to find ways to replace or repair infrastructure damaged or destroyed
either during the invasion or by Iblis’s forces or even by the rioting and looting of their own
citizens.
        They also have to rebuild a devastated army and airforce despite a public fear of the
nations own military, the reputation of Frances military, indeed, the public trust in their own
forces crippled by those regiments Iblis was able to control.
        The Navy and Airforce might have stayed out of the fighting but that has certainly not
helped the general public trust them once more. The Navy was forced out of the fight largely
by their nature but the airforce could have fought the invasion and largely didn’t.
        Indeed, those units which didn’t resist Iblis either actively resisted the allied
liberation or just deserted, abandoning their duty and heading home. It will be up to the new
government to decide what to do with the deserters, as it will be up to them to make the final
choice as to what exactly is to be done with the ruins of Paris”

         “Buenos Aires, a city in ruins, its heart torn out by a cylon nuclear missile, the rest of
the city burnt to the ground as fires triggered by the detonation raged out of control. No-one
truly knows how many people died here or are still dying here. Aid is now flowing swiftly into
the area, helping the survivors, but there are few enough of those.
         Indeed, the bulk of the people that are being treated by the International Red Cross
and the other aid agencies are those who were looking towards the city when the device
detonated. So far, it’s reported that over three hundred people have been diagnosed as
having been completely and permanently blinded by the detonation flash. Hundreds more
have suffered some impairment to their sight and only time will tell as to how many of those
can be treated.
         Yet this city is not alone, and the misery we see here is duplicated around Vladivostok
and Los Vegas.
         It is also telling perhaps that even here they have heard of Exeter and the destruction
of that Cathedral city and despite the many injuries, the many blinded people and the loss of
their city, they consider themselves lucky that they weren’t living on the south coast of
England”

        “The inquest into the failure of Earths defences adjourned for the night just minutes
ago, the judges appointed by Congress faced with dissecting the actions of the joint command
structure at the insistence of Congress despite having an extremely shaky legal ground for
doing so.
        Indeed, the officer officially in charge of Earths defences, Commodore Peters who
resides aboard Thundersdawn Station has refused to attend this hearing, stating that only a
board appointed by at least two thirds of the spacefaring nations had any right of inquest
over Earths defences.
        Legally, she is almost certainly correct, but several members of congress have been
consistently pushing for more control of the space forces to be placed in Americas hands ever
since Disclosure and its probable that this farce has been ordered as an attempt to force the
issue.
        Certainly at one point to all appearances at least, America controlled everything
more powerful then a rocket that could actually defend this world from attack but the British
are seen to have usurped that control with the highly successful Thundersdawn project, a fact
that has not been appreciated amongst certain individuals who remember, perhaps with far
too much fondness, when America was the unquestioned most powerful nation on Earth.
        In many ways, America still is, but when people think of powerful nations now, they
don’t see America first then perhaps the European Union and China, they see America and


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Britain, a nation once again a powerful force for technological advancement and naval
power, albeit space navy power.
        Where this will lead is uncertain, but perhaps a gentle reminder is needed that
America stands strongest when she stands amongst friends, instead of amongst resentful and
uncooperative allies merely of convenience or fear”

        “We are standing on the outskirts of Manston Field, a major Royal Space Service
base, and as you can see and no doubt hear behind me, the base is at full alert. Five minutes
ago, it was dead quiet, no one was moving bar the guards and dogs roaming the perimeter at
all hours, now it is like a kicked ant-hill, we don’t know what exactly is going on but….
        Wait, okay, the loudspeakers behind me are just announcing a squadron scramble,
now this base is home field for the a squadron of Motor Torpedo and Motor Gunboats,
known to the Americans as Patrol Boats.
        Something is definitely going on, but what I am afraid…
        Wait, okay, we have guards running towards us now, shouting at us to stop
transmitting but we’ll keep going as long as we can, we are outside the perimeter, they have
no right to violate press rights by forcing us to stop<Transmission Terminated At Source>


Three

        “Battlegroup stands ready Captain,” Lt Hayes announced briskly, hiding her
uncertainty.
        Jones nodded acknowledgement, his thoughts also uncertain. They were mere days
out of dock and outside of simulations; the ships hadn’t yet operated as a group. Indeed, they
hadn’t yet finished the individual trial runs of each ship and minor and some not so minor
issues were already on the fix list, waiting for the Yard Boys at Thundersdawn station and as
long as the ships were still ‘proving’ the docks couldn’t be reset for different ships.
        Indeed, on her second day out of dock Overseer had headed back in for a replacement
gauss mounting, her existing unit having cracked, obviously flawed and something the Yard
boys were supposed to have picked up on.
        Truth be told, and hew wasn’t going to hide it from himself, not in the privacy of his
own mind, the group was not yet ready for combat, not by a long stretch.
        Of course, the alert could easily mean that the issue was about to be forced, but damn,
were trials by fire for green units a very bad idea, if sometimes unavoidable.

       Thor blinked, his eyes tracking across his holographic displays as the Earthers system
became, what was the cute human phrase? Ah yes, like a kicked anthill.
       Interesting, he had dropped out of hyper towards the edges of the system deliberately,
knowing that the Tau’ri would most likely be in a shoot first, ask questions of any surviving
molecules later type mood, but he hadn’t expected to be detected quite so far out.
       The Tau’ri’s actions clearly showed that he had been detected however, even though
his own passives had picked up the Tau’ri sensors and declared them to be below detection
threshold.
       Of course, there reaction also showed that they most likely didn’t know exactly who
was out there but…
       How had they detected him?
       Thor tapped lightly at his controls, working his way through the masses of data and
analysis the Carter’s small but exceedingly powerful processor banks were generating.
       His eyes widened, and then he nodded in frank approval.


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        The Carter had reported that at least three separate sets of sensors had locked onto his
ship despite the strength of the beams being below that required to actually get a solid return
off the hull even flying, as he was now, with the bulk of the sensor foxing technologies
turned off, something he hadn’t previously considered installing aboard a warship.
        Individually, Thor knew, the beams were below detection threshold but together….
        Thor of all the Asgard had the most experience of working with these humans, he had
the best idea of how they thought and indeed, according to more then a handful of his
compatriots he had become infected with some of their thought patterns, a cry that had turned
to grudging admiration after he had shown exactly what use the sensor foxing technologies
were when the Goa’uld Rast seized a protected world, planning on the relatively large size of
his fleet to protect him from the weakened Asgard Fleet.
        Rast never once achieved a sensor lock on his ship; indeed, his ship hadn’t taken a
single hit which was a good thing since he was using an aging Beliskner at the time.
        The Tau’ri were great believers in team-work, training their forces to work
cooperatively to a far greater extent then most, why would they not apply that doctrine to
there sensors too?
        A blip that meant nothing on one sensor would of course mean something entirely
different on three or more…
        Thor made a mental note to make some modifications to the sensor grid defending the
new home world and ordered his ship to proceed deeper into the sol system.

         “You’re what?” Adama asked, startled, rising to his feet in shock even as beside him,
Oslin carefully resisted the urge to flee.
         “We’re sending in the Battlegroup,” Thompson said, his tone firm and strong even as
his eyes betrayed his amusement at the Colonials reaction to his words, “we don’t expect any
more Colonial units to be discovered, but we do know that the Cylons have set up a fleet train
of some sort, they have to have in order to effectively maintain their constant and rather
annoying attacks on the Sol System and their occasional probes here. Primary mission for the
group will be to find and disrupt that fleet train, but the nature of space and FTL drives means
that is likely to be difficult.
         Secondary objective will be to investigate known Colonial graveyards and check for
hulls that are potentially salvageable as well as destroying any colonial outposts and units
they come across at group commander’s discretion”
         Adama nodded, his expression pleased, “Good. The Cylons need to learn the meaning
of the word fear”
         “Rumour has it, the Loyalists already have,” Thompson commented dryly, “fear of
their own master anyway. Either way, we do not have strength enough to wage a full scale
war against the Cylons; that is clear.
         We do have certain advantages but for the moment, all we can do is probe, poke and
maybe weaken them a little”
         “Do you require the assistance of the Colonial Military?” Roslin asked carefully.
         “No, well not in any major way anyway,” Thompson shrugged, “a few bodies familiar
with Colonial warships would be nice just in case we do find potential salvage but other then
that as soon as Atlantis launches, she will reinforce and spearhead the group. For now, you
only have three operational warships, you need to keep them home or at least, near home in
order to keep your surviving population protected. You can’t unmask Freedom for the time to
we intend this mission to take without heavy risk”
         The Admiral shrugged, “I did think you had the right to be informed as to the
operation we intend to send into Cylon territory though”
         Adama grunted, “We need more warships brought back online and operational”


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        “So do we,” Thompson pointed out, “but we are limited by the available resources,
the available yard space, personnel, a thousand and one other things, just like you are”
        “Unfortunately true,” Adama noted, “though you might be please to note that the first
Viper IX will launch in approximately two months”
        “Aye yes, I had heard that was preceding well,” Thompson nodded, “better to make
new hulls then refit old, they will last longer as they will not have suffered so many stresses,
or metal fatigue”
        Roslin shrugged, “Will that really make a great difference? As far as I was aware the
nine was merely a scratch built eight, as opposed to the eights themselves which are refits of
mark two’s”
        Adama nodded, “short term, the only difference is a few structural changes which we
couldn’t get away with in the refit. The nines will be slightly stronger then the eights
structurally, meaning the potential to survive more combat damage, the potential to make
tighter manoeuvres in combat”
        “Long Term is where the real differences come in,” Thompson pointed out to the
President, “the nines should have a longer effective life then the eights and should require
less maintenance for a few years at least. Even with the main spar replacement and similar
work that was done to refit the Viper twos into eights, they are still ‘used’ hulls”
        “I see,” Roslin nodded, “one thing I must ask, how goes the Raptor replacement
program?”
        Thompson nodded, “okay, fair question”
        He paused, gathering his thoughts, “currently it is being pushed through as a priority
as part of the SWACs program, the Space Warning And Control program the Americans have
been funding.
        Refitting the previous Raptors as was done with the Viper II’s has been ruled out by
the engineers and designers, which has left the SWAC team seriously considering only two
options.
        One, a modification of the existing Paladin design that has already proven itself as a
highly capable utility craft. It has the advantage of better commonality of parts, reducing
costs”
        Adama nodded, “good craft, FTL capable, some ability to defend themselves
combined with reasonable manoeuvrability for their size as well as speed. Effectively, they
are your Raptors already; you just haven’t added the fighter support systems that made the
Raptor such a useful craft”
        “I agree with you, as do most of the design teams” Thompson grimaced,
“unfortunately a nasty political element has entered this. A few members of the American
Government are throwing their weight about, trying to gain more control of the alliance for
themselves”
        Roslin rolled her eyes, her expression proclaiming with great irony that she had no
idea what sort of people the Admiral was talking about.
        Thompson nodded in agreement, his tone “they are pushing for a new design
produced specifically for the intended role, something which will increase costs both in the
long and short term but considering the budget is American, they will be able to claim it as a
purely American design”
        “Prestige,” Roslin noted.
        “Precisely,” Thompson shrugged, “they don’t control the American Government
frankly or we might be in for some interesting times, but they are large enough in number to
be a problem”
         “Good luck with that,” Adama noted, “for the record, I personally believe a Paladin
redesign sounds the better option”


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        “Noted and thank you Commander,” Thompson replied, rising from his seat, “now, I
do believe I was promised a pint…”


Four

        “Several leading military officers were arrested today in raids conducted by a joint
taskforce headed by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service assisted by the investigative
branches of all the remaining services and the FBI.
        The reasons for these sweeping arrests have not yet been made clear; however those
arrested cover the whole gamut, from Admiral Fenton, Commanding Officer of the
Independence Wet-Navy Battlegroup to General Henderson, who is largely responsible for
logistical support for the Airforce.
        It’s not just the ranks of the senior officers who have been devastated too, a number of
lesser officers and indeed, non-commissioned officers have been hit in raids with are reputed
to have resulted in over a hundred arrests.
        Does the government have legitimate reasons for these arrests?
        The use of the criminal investigative agencies both federal and military suggests so
but is not conclusive and we are forced to ask ourselves, has our government, the United
States Government, begun a purge of the military?
        Only time will tell, but either way, this is one more worrying and perhaps dangerous
development in a year that has seen so many despite being so new”

        “A militant Arab group known to be funded and supported by the Iranian government
is today being blamed for an attack on the Russian oil pipelines which supply much of
Europe.
        An official estimate on the damage has not yet been released but is known to be
considerable, at least two of the pipelines have received heavy damage, indeed, it is reported
that a three mile section of Pipeline One is gone, its ruin surrounded by burning oil”

         “European Union leaders called for calm today as rioting broke out in a number of
cities, triggered almost certainly by news of the Russian Oil Disaster, a disaster which will
now doubt push prices up even further across the continent.
         This comes as the British Government officially announced the reintroduction of
rationing on all petrol and diesel, the last time such rationing was used was during the
Second World War and its immediate aftermath”

        “BP today confirmed its intension to increase capacity in the North Sea oilfields with
five new rigs as well as replacements for those destroyed by militant groups soon after
disclosure.
        Shares in the company rose almost ten points within a hour of the announcement,
further increasing the value of a company which has seen almost unprecedented success
since the OPEC blockade began.
        Nor is BP alone, in America alone, five previously abandoned fields are being
reactivated, an increase in the sophistication and capability of drilling technologies such as
horizontal drilling allow oil bearing strata previously abandoned as economically no longer
viable to once more be tapped.
        Many of these still hold at least one half of their original stocks of crude oil”




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       “California wrote into law today an act which makes recycling a legal requirement
for almost every home in the state.
       Whilst home recycling is highly encouraged in many areas, so far where recycling has
been law, it has been primarily so for businesses and for specific items such as computers.
       The state legislature has yet to announce how such a law might be enforced”

        “The Royal Space Service today gave a statement confirming the presence of an
Asgard O’Neill class warship within the Sol system. Why this vessel is here has not been
announced but it is the fervent hope of many British and increasingly, those living on the
North coast of France that they are here to assist with the clean-up resulting from the Cylon
use of a ‘dirty’ nuclear device.
        In related news, the skipper of the cargo ship “Lady Lee” was arrested earlier after
stopping his ship in the English Channel and his ship moved on. The area is currently under
a no-stopping order, allowing shipping through despite elevated levels of radiation”

        “Mob funding of space warships?
        That’s the question we are dealing with today as it is revealed that elements of the
Russian criminal underworld make significant contributions towards Russians purchase of 4
ships from the British and Americans.
        Indeed, whilst exact details aren’t available as yet, it is rumoured that the donation
was enough to fund a complete warship.
        The American and British governments are known to be taking this situation very
seriously indeed”

       “A Cylon probing attack was thwarted today after the basestar leading the assault
arrived between the visiting Asgard O’Neill class vessel and the newly formed First
Battlegroup.
       The battle is said to have been exceedingly brief”

        “Reports now reaching us from Minbari Alliance space indicate that the forces of the
Goa’uld Anubis has begun a major offensive against the allied races.
        Losses have been heavy and reports have been sketchy, not only does it take time for
information to filter back from such a distant area of space but the information we receive is
often highly censored.
        Still, we know that at least five worlds have been lost already during this latest
assault. Whilst it is not yet confirmed, we strongly suspect that the allied races, which include
the Minbari, the League of Non-Aligned Worlds and the Narn, have called for support from
our military however a question mark has to raised over our ability to react to such a call”


Five

        “So,” O’Neill shook his head, “we have a problem”
        “Indeed,” Thompson said nodding, “the initial idea had been to send the battlegroup
in for probing and vengeance strikes against the Cylons, maybe even a little salvage but this
new assault by Anubis is something else. We have no real choice; we have to reinforce our
allies”
        Peters nodded, the annoyance on her face clear even through the monitor, “it’s
obvious that Anubis has kept these forces in reserve and not used them until now”



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        “Which is a problem, but one we perhaps should have expected sooner,” Thompson
shook his head, “he might have been forced out of the former system lords territories but we
don’t know how much space he had in the realm he was banished too, not to mention exactly
how much of the unexplored territories he has seized. It’s a lot of space to hide or construct
ships in”
        “And those new fighters of his are murderous,” Peters grimaced, “you’ve all seen the
reports. Something caused him to hide them since their first appearance at Edonia and now
they are showing up in droves, full squadrons all of whom seem to be exceedingly well
trained. Not only is he using stealth technologies now, but it seems he has decided to take the
time to do things right and that worries me”
        “Never was one for long-term planning,” O’Neill noted thoughtfully, “sounds almost
as if we have forced him to adapt and improve”
        “Also a problem,” Thompson shook his head, “whilst he has always been advanced
technologically, almost painfully so at times, he has never been exactly smart and that has
always been our edge. If he is adapting and thinking now, we just lost our only real
advantage”
        “That’s an issue for another time though,” Peters shook her head, “right now, we have
to deal with one simple issue: How do we reinforce our allies?”
        “First Battlegroup,” Thompson said unhesitatingly, “there’s nothing else we can send,
the Cylons will just have to wait”
        “That’ll certainly be a blooding;” O’Neill grimaced, “are they ready for that?”
        “They will have to be,” Thompson replied, “if we can rebuff Anubis’s advance,
maybe supply some ground troops to assist in the liberation of seized worlds, we could recall
the group to launch a foray into Cylon space, perhaps when Atlantis launches…”
        O’Neill shook his head, “two weeks and Atlantis will launch, and I don’t think you
will be able to stop Anubis that swiftly”
        “No,” Peters shook her head, “we won’t”
        Thompson nodded, “so the First Battlegroup we send to reinforce, now we just need
to free up some ground-pounders to assist as well as transports for them”
        “Talk to the allies,” O’Neill shrugged, “I know Britain won’t be able to spare a single
regiment, I doubt my government will be able to free up more then two and the Russians are
too busy assisting you’re rebuilding, it’s unlikely they will be able to spare any significant
force….”
        Thompson nodded, “Okay, have a word with your President, have him talk to the
Germans, I’ll see about scaring up a few Canadian, Austrian, Australian or Italian units”
        “That still leaves the issue of transport,” Peters shook her head, grimacing, a cup
appearing in range of the screens pick-up for just a moment, “and frankly, we have jack-shit
as far as shifting units in bulk goes”
        “The Paladins have the endurance,” O’Neill shook his head, “but not with a full load
of troops aboard. The Ha’taks would really be my first choice, but the only three that are
operational are fully booked”
        “What about the three just shifted to refit?” Thompson asked.
        O’Neill shook his head, “crews have already been scattered, the ships completely
powered down and a number of vital crystals removed from the controls. They’re sealed up
on the surface right now, and could theoretically be brought back online but the reasons they
were taken offline for in the first place would still exist”
        “Perhaps, but we need the transport capacity” Peters noted.
        Thompson grimaced, “O’Neill is right, the run to alliance space is almost invariably
intercepted. Usually just catches the edge of an Al-kesh sweep but you know as well as I do
that there have been full blown battles along the way. We know Anubis has units attempting


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to interdict any supplies and shipments between our space and the allies, the Standard
Ha’taks do not have the speed to run from such an engagement nor can they be relied upon to
fight there way out. If we use them, we put the crew and passengers at a not-inconsiderable
risk, same with the Paladins”
        “The only alternative,” Peters shrugged, “is a Merchant with cargo pods modified for
mass passenger transport. Time consuming to set up but it could work”
        “Unfortunately,” Thompson noted, “Liberty is queued for repairs, Merchant is highly
involved in the Edonia run. That leaves just the Sir Lancelot and one ship alone will not move
a regiment”
        “It will have to do though,” Peters shook her head, “pity we can’t send the
Gatecrashers”
        “Half the teams are guarding the temporary Stargate Command,” Thompson
shrugged, “and the other half are involved with efforts to retrieve the Cheops class
mothership team four found last year. That’s going to be a long haul job, we can’t afford any
bug that can visibly break down the cells of any animal lifeform into the wild, but we could
certainly do with that hull”
        “A Cheops?” O’Neill shook his head, “hell yes, but where would we refit it?”
        “Planetary surface, most likely Alpha Prime, no other way to do it unless we build a
customized bay just for the task” Peters noted.
        “Has its advantages,” O’Neill commented, “but if you do refit that thing on the
surface, I suggest you use a desert area and have a few nukes on standby ready to glass it
should the bug be proven to have survived”
        “We would like to avoid that if possible,” Thompson noted, “but I can see the point”
        “So,” O’Neill noted, “I heard Thor paid a visit”
        “He did,” Peters replied, “and he’s headed back home again. Just popped in to get up
to date scans of Exeter and the surrounding area, I heard President Hayes bent his ear a little
though and he left with scans of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and a few other places”
        “Sweet,” O’Neill shook his head, “but we’re going to owe them one for once”
        Thompson nodded, “if he manages the cleanup, I won’t complain”
        The Admiral glanced across at Peters screen, “any idea of what he plans? I haven’t
had a chance to read the reports yet”
        Peters shook her head, “from what he said, they are refitting a few Beliskners for the
task, which reminds me actually, we are going to need to reinforce the defensive picket when
they arrive, Thor mentioned that they would be vulnerable whilst attempting to sweep the
area of radioactive particles”
        Thompson winced, “okay, well, as soon as the Edonia Patrol is cleared to report to
their duty station, I’ll have a fighter squadron or maybe a pair recalled from the nebula. That
should help”
        “Perhaps,” Peters grimaced, “but you know Intel is getting a bit itchy about the
nebula. Somebody should have launched a serious attack by now, attempted to take such a
powerful and valuable artefact from us, but they haven’t. At this point in time, I would say
we were more then slightly overdue”
        “There have been attacks,” O’Neill pointed out.
        Peters shook her head, “probes at best, none of the attacks have been pressed”
        “This is fun,” Thompson noted, “really, a brushfire here, a brushfire there, and
potential over there and a need to picket here. Again I say, we need more ships”
        “Nothing new launching for a while,” Peters replied, “sorry”
        “Just Atlantis here,” O’Neill shook his head, “then we’re stuck with Ha’tak refits,
both for us and for the Free Jaffa”



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        “I’m afraid we’ll have to prioritise the Free Jaffa refits,” Thompson grimaced, “they
have lots of ships but they are now for the most part seriously outclassed. The only reason
they haven’t been taken out is that Maktenos is content to let them be for the moment whilst
he concentrates on Anubis but still”
        “Maktenos is smart,” Peters commented wryly, “tries to fight his enemies one at a
time, now why didn’t we think of that?”
        O’Neill grinned, “Sometimes you get the fish and sometimes, the fish gets you”
        “Perhaps,” Thomspon replied thoughtfully, “but if we can refit the Cheops on the
surface, why can’t we do the Ha’taks too?”
        Peters and O’Neill froze.
        “Would get the crews some experience in case we do manage to get the mothership,”
O’Neill pointed out, his mind scrambling to figure the new idea into his plans, “but the Free
Jaffa will be doing most of their refits on a planetary surface so its best if we show them how
to convert the ships to the new design on the surface”
        Peters nodded, “make it easier for there crews to assist with the refit too, as they have
some experience in constructing and repairing their ships on the surface, could probably teach
us a few things for our own refits”
        “Leaves all three of my warship slips free for other tasks,” O’Neill noted, “but we’re
talking a massive infrastructure to set up and we’ve already lost a lot of the normal cargo
craft”
        Thompson nodded, “I’m going to push a new merchant higher up the list, but in the
meantime, those Ha’taks had Tel’tacs as part of their inventory did they not?”         “Of
course,” Peters noted, “we detach them from their ships for the duration of the refit and use
them to shift supplies for the refits. Nice”
        “Crews,” O’Neill mused, “should be easy enough to find, we’re talking just three
small ships here”
        “Infrastructure wise, we’re talking a new town, preferably in the desert so we can use
the same facilities should we manage to get a hold of the Cheops” Thompson pointed out.
        “Right,” O’Neill nodded, “water pipeline, pumps for definite, oasis are very few and
far between or so I’m told, landing platform, some anti-air, all the usual but a massive stock
of moveable gantries, scaffolding, cranes and the like”
        “Crew,” Peters pointed out, “we would need personnel trained for construction work
and support personnel. It’s a lot of people”
        “We can scrape a few experienced crews to lead from all three existent facilities,”
Thompson pointed out, “but the bulk would have to be green. Luckily, we have already
started training additional personnel ready for Gaia station, considering the delays they will
be ready before the station is”
        “Can’t pull too many people from here,” Peters shook her head, “in fact, I would be
happier if you didn’t pull anyone. I got problems; I need more personnel in the yards and fast.
If you’ve read the reports from the First Battlegroups proving trials, you will know that
quality control has slipped, too much hurry, not enough bodies, the morale kicker from
Disclosure, hell, I have a malcontent element aboard the station now and that’s a serious first.
Saboteurs I’ve had but not this”
        O’Neill and Thompson stiffened, “how bad?”
        “Approaching dangerous,” Peters grimaced, “I’ve put reports through the channels
but… well, the last response was a note of censure for exaggeration and scare-mongering”
        “What?” Thompson officially and rather loudly blew his top.
        “My feelings exactly,” the Commodore grimaced, “somebody needs some reality
shoved right up there arse, as well as a careful reminder of exactly who is second in command
of the Royal Space Service”


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        “I’ll get Internal Affairs onto it,” Thompson responded, “it could just be some dick
who needs a new arsehole but I’m afraid I don’t like exactly how much of this bullshit I’m
seeing evidence of. We may be looking at subtle sabotage, unlikely, but it’s got to be
investigated”
        “Doubly so considering I’ve had a spare crew here for months,” O’Neill pointed out,
“if Peters is short, that crew should have been posted to Thundersdawn”
        Peters glanced across at O’Neill, “I’m short by about five crews”
        “That’s bad,” Thompson shook his head, “and it means, no, you can’t spare anyone
for a surface facility”
        “What about the Russians?” Peters pointed out, “I doubt every crew would have been
at work in that yard of there’s before it blew and as Russia is signed up to the SGC”
        “It’s a thought,” Thompson noted, “I’ll get Hammond onto that”
        “I’ll start getting infrastructure setup,” O’Neill nodded, walking out of the conference
room.
        “Well, I’ve got arrangements to complete for three major hull repairs,” Peters
grimaced, “going to be fun, catch you again boss”


Six

        “Whilst no official statement has yet been given regarding the mass arrests of military
personnel last week, rumours are continuing to circulate that the officers in question were
planning to attempt a military coup and seize control of the United States.
        This disturbing suggestion has not yet been refuted by the Agent Gibbs of the NCIS
who is leading the investigation”

        “Royal Space Service sources today confirmed the departure of the 1st Battlegroup for
Minbari space. The Minbari, an alien race allied to both the Royal Space Service and
Stargate Command, have come under heavy attack from forces loyal to the Goa’uld Anubis
and have been calling for reinforcement.
        This deployment means that the Battlegroup will be deploying into a major battlefield
largely untried and untested with their proving trials incomplete”

        “President Hayes today announced the appointment of Brigadier General Davis to
Stargate Command as the services new commanding officer. General Davis has served in a
liaison role between the command and the Pentagon for over sixteen years and as such, is
well versed in the role and capabilities of the force”

        “Jubilation today as the battered, bloody fire services today confirmed that the
London fire is contained. It’s not out, not by any stretch of the imagination but its ability to
spread has been curtailed in a massive effort involving thousands of fire-fighters from across
the UK and indeed, from other nations joined by service personnel and demolitions experts.
        The result, a massive firebreak which it’s believed and hoped the fire will not be able
to cross.
        Now, for these people, its time to breath once more, to get some sleep, for tomorrow,
they will begin the assault on the fire itself”

        “Tension in Asia at an all time high as China prepares to invade Taiwan. The move to
‘reintegrate the renegade province’ was confirmed by the Chinese defence minister earlier



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today, as part of a move to ‘unite the nation once more under one banner, strengthening her
heart and resolve to better resist the corrupt west.
        The Taiwanese forces, already at high alert before the announcement are believed to
have gone to forward staging positions however for obvious reasons, a news blackout is now
in place.
        Taiwan, which only two years ago was officially recognised by NATO as a separate
nation, has called for assistance in resisting ‘blatant Chinese aggression and
warmongering’, however given the weakened states of many of the western military forces,
assistance is unlikely.
        Many analysts are saying that is exactly what the Chinese government are hoping for
but the Chinese are refusing to comment further except to say that the reunification of China
is an internal police matter and no business of the media”

       “Tokyo today confirmed its intension to aid Taiwan should China invade, Japan
which has not yet recognised Taiwan as a separate nation stated that a reunified and
aggressive China was not in the best interests of international stability”

        “A Royal Navy Spokesperson has confirmed the destruction of an unidentified Kilo
class submarine discovered in the waters surrounding the North Sea oilfields. The unknown
craft which ignored attempts at communication was heard to open torpedo tube doors as it
approached one of the oilrigs and was consequently destroyed”

        “Uncertainty today as for the first time since Disclosure, Americans prepare to go to
the polls. The result is uncertain; no-one is willing to guess which of the candidates will walk
off with the Presidency.
        Hayes is looking for a second term but the effects of the troubles which affected the
nation during his term are uncertain, will Americans vote judging by the chaos or by the swift
and strong response to it?
        Either way, this is one election that is certainly not a forgone conclusion and a lot of
bookies are refusing to give odds on the outcome”

        “Shares in Shell rose nearly ten points after confirmation that the company was the
successful bidder for an investigation contract addressing the possibility of producing and
refining oil on the Earth colony Alpha Prime for import to Earth.
        The Colonial Governor, currently Lord Holmes, has stated his belief that the issue
would not be the production or refining, though those would require a lot of equipment to the
shipped to the planet, but the transport of either the refined product or the crude to Earth and
safely adding it to the distribution network in large enough quantities to be economically
viable.
         A small refinery already exists on the surface on Alpha Prime which provides oils
and distillates for local usage.
        In related news, bidding opened for a contract to create a complete oil network for
the Colonials on Freedom, from acquisition of the crude oil to distribution of refined
products. The Colonials, whilst far less dependent on oil for their energy then us,
nevertheless require a certain level of oil supply, primarily for chemical production and the
plastics industry.
        Once completed, the entire network will be state owned”




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       “In a cost saving measure, the Russian government today announced its intention to
phase out the Russian Space Agency, now seen by many as obsolete in the face of recent
developments.
       The agency directly employs only 300 as most of the work is contracted out, but their
fate and the fate of the facilities owned by the Russian Space Agency is now highly uncertain.
How much will be absorbed into Stargate Command, of which the Russian government is a
funding member, is unknown.
       What is known is that these facilities are looked on greedily by many within the US
who see the British founded Royal Space Service as very much an usurper to the American
space crown. They would need to be upgraded off course, but a lot of the infrastructure is
already in place and we may see these facilities in use for many years to come yet”


Seven

        “Looks like they were planning a welcoming committee,” LT Hayes noted, her hands
dancing across her tactical controls.
        “Oh,” Captain Jones smirked, “they got one all right. Target the lead shadow warship,
all group weapons”
        “Aye Captain,”
        Jones leant forward in his seat, his eyes dancing between the tactical display and the
relayed view of the front of the ship, eyes eager to see the effect of the groups combined
weapons. This was a new thing for the Tau’ri, fleet manoeuvres had, up till now, been thrown
together in a hurry and the ships never really got to practise them. Now on the other hand…
        The lead shadow warship abruptly disappeared from the tactical display, momentarily
intercepted by the blinking lines of gauss rifle fire from six Tau’ri warships.
         Jones blinked, “shields?”
        “No indications the shadow ships have them,” Hayes swiftly replied, “looks like bio-
organics, so the Minbari got that right”
         The Captain nodded, “concentrate on using the Gauss rifles then, leave Long Tom on
standby”
        “Aye Cap… wait,” Hayes, glanced up shocked, “I’ve lost sensor contact with the
hostiles!”
        “What?” shocked and dismayed, Jones unclasped his safety harness, diving up to the
tactical console to see the readouts for himself.
        “My God,” he breathed, “how?”
        “No idea Captain,” Hayes shook her head disturbed, “but I don’t think they left.
Looks like they cloaked?”
        “Cloaked?” Jones frowned, puzzled, then his eyes widened with fear, “all ships, battle
profile kilo-twelve, rig to engage cloaked hostiles!”
        He was almost too late.

        Overseer rocked as a powerful beam flashed out of nothing, tearing the newly refitted
vessels shields to shreds, dropping their strength almost to nothingness before the beam cut
out.
        Gauss rifle fire flashed through space around the point of origin for the beam, the
Tau’ri computers carefully swiftly looking for any impact as the relatively cheap and
expendable trinium rounds sought out their enemy.
        A single impact explosion lit the scene, but it was enough and return fire, this time of
naquadah tipped rounds tore the Shadow Battlecrab to shreds.


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         The fleet manoeuvred, desperately trying to provide as much cover as possible for
their weakened comrade, but with only four other warships, the task wasn’t easy and masking
the Overseer completely was an impossibility.
         Another beam flashed across space, Britannica shuddering under the force, rocking as
second beam joined the first, the Shadows exploiting the one ships major weakness, most of
its gauss rifles were optimized for forward fire and less able to fire to the side. But Captain
Jones had ordered Long Tom run out and the massive Ion weapon spoke, Britannica rocking
to one side under the force as a Shadow Battlecrab appeared on the sensors, its energy
absorbent armour being surrounded for mere seconds by a corona of powerful ionized
energies.
         Long Tom moved to rapid fire, the mighty Battlecruiser slowing as energies were
drained, all shunted into the beam and into the weakened shields.
         The Battlecrab died, the absorbent armour overloaded, creating an energy wash that
flashed across space as containment was lost. Moved by the wash, the Tau’ri fleet vessel
frantically manoeuvred to avoid colliding with their fellows, destroying much of the unit
cohesiveness that was their strength, their weapons spitting vengefully at four contacts that
appeared momentarily in the explosions wake.
         One died, just breaking up, its structural integrity destroyed, the other three
manoeuvred swiftly to avoid their companions fate, splattering the Tau’ri ships with bursts of
fire as they attempted to regroup.
         Invincible came under fire, its shields rapidly decaying, her Captain ordered the least
of the battlegroups vessels to retreat to hyperspace and escape. The shadows fired once more,
this time at the hyperspace jump point, not at Invincible herself.
         The point collapsed, but the Dauntless class ship was already in hyperspace.
         Unbeknownst to the Tau’ri, two Shadow Warships followed the destroyer into
Hyperspace, intending on running down and capturing the small vessel. Unfortunately for
them, the Invincible was in no mood to hang around and had already dropped out of hyper,
going swiftly to ground.
         Finding itself the only Battlecrab still fighting the Battlegroup itself, the final Shadow
vessel decided discretion was the better part of valour and it data cores loaded with all the
sensor data it had gathered during the fight, the vessel retreated from the battlefield.

       “Where did Invincible go to?” Jones demanded after five minutes of waiting for the
next Battlecrab to show itself.
       “Not far,” Hayes replied, “Passives are picking up weak sensor emissions from the
edge of the system that it IDs as one of our arrays”
       “Very well,” Jones replied, wiping a sheen of seat from his forehead, “lets join her
shall we? Condition two steaming, but maintain shields at full available strength”
       “Do we continue onto Minbar?” LT Holst asked, glancing up from the helm console.
       Captain Jones shook his head, “get me damage and expenditure reports from all ships,
we’ll know then”

       Commodore Peters didn’t know what exactly had caused her to wake; all she knew
was that one minute she had been enjoying a quite nice and frankly, imaginative erotic dream
and the next, she was awake and at ‘Red’ alert.
       Grimacing, she moved intending to check the time on the display set by her bed and
screamed as the knife meant for her throat slammed into her shoulder.
       Instinctively, her hand dived for the small, compact pistol-bow she kept in a non-
obvious holster at the side of her bed, the weapons lack of penetrative ability making it an
ideal weapon for ship-board use.


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        It wasn’t there, and there was tape over the sensor that would scream that it had been
removed. Growling, she threw off her sheets, tangling her opponent in them as she reached
across, tearing the surprisingly flimsy cover off the timepiece and swiftly pulling at the small
blade hidden within. A knife incidentally, whose metal blade was part of an unauthorised
alarm circuit, its removal broke the circuit, triggering the alarm circuit that her assassin and
by the way, base security actually knew about.
        Knife in hand, she swung around then cursing, dived across the bed, narrowly
avoiding the knife thrust that would have disembowelled her, before turning, knife raised to
face her as yet unidentified adversary.
        The room was dark, she couldn’t tell who it was, though the sounds they had been
making suggested male to her eyes.
        Whoever it was, they coming for her again and she stood, knife ready to ‘welcome’
them.


Eight

        Admiral of the Fleet Alistair Thomas, Commanding Officer Royal Star Service was
officially unamused.
        One might go so far as to say he was mildly vexed.
        “I want to know why exactly my second in command is in hospital, I want the names
of everyone involved and I want heads and I want them yesterday!”
         Commander Joan Williams winced, raising her hand to her now tender ears, “Christ
boss, cool it will you, I’m sure they didn’t hear planetside…”
        “I. Don’t. Care” Thompson voice was calm, dangerously so, the very quietness and
levelness managing to portray his unhappiness far better then he previous shouting had,
“somebody just attempted to assassinate my second in command, worse, they tried to
assassinate the officer in command of the Sol System defences aboard a station which is
being marred by personnel troubles and so called ‘administrative’ delays. Somebody is
deliberately attacking the Royal Star Service and I want to know who and I want to know
why. And I want their heads on a bloody platter”
        “So do it,” Joan replied annoyed, “but shouting at me isn’t going to help. Now, the
question is, are those problems actually related?”
        “Finding out is now your concern Commander,” Thompson replied annoyed, “I’ll be
passing along word to Murielle to contact you for orders. I’m going to be giving you some
pretty broad powers in this, don’t disappoint me”
        “Aye Sir,” Joan replied, taking her orders chip off her boss before fleeing the room.

        Lieutenant Hayes grimaced, her hands clenched as she gazed annoyed at the tactical
display, “Set condition one and prepare to jump to space-normal”
        “Aye Ma’m,” came the swift reply from the only other officer present on the bridge,
Ensign Bridges, “Condition One and rig for jump”
        Nodding, the tactical officer gazed across the display, trying to identify targets from
the twisted mass of blurry markers on the screen, some were already marked as ships, hostile
or alliance, some marked as spent weapons or debris but most were simply unidentified.
        “Report!” Hayes turned at the brisk word from the bridge hatch, catching the Captain
pulling his uniform top over his head as he stepped into the room.
        “We have a furball Captain, space-normal,” she replied, stepping smartly away from
the console to give her Captain a better view, “identified alliance warships, Narn and League
as well as several Drakh ships. Ship is ordered to battlestations and we are rigged to jump”


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       Hayes watched passively, her Command having devolved to the Captain as soon as he
stepped onto the bridge, waiting for orders.
       “Jump us out on the edge of the furball, and be ready to contact the Alliance ships, I
want a sit-rep ASAP,”
       Nodding, Hayes stepped towards her own tactical console, surrendering the central
display as the rest of the command crew raced onto the bridge. She almost didn’t hear her
Captains whispered final comment.
       “Dropping right into a fight, oh joy”

         “He came towards me swiftly,” Peters said softly, grimacing at a stab of pain from her
abdomen, “but there was something in his eyes that frightened me. It was… as if he truly
believed he could not die, not then or there”
         “Religious fanatic?” Joan asked softly, her eyes speaking her sympathy even as her
body language screamed professional doing her job.
         “I don’t know,” Peters replied, her form twisting under the thin hospital sheets as she
tried to get more comfortable, her face dropping into a pained grimace as the movement sent
shards of pain radiating outwards from her stomach, “something about him seemed off
though I cant tell you what. It was an impression more then anything else, it may not mean
anything”
         Joan nodded, “what happened next?”
         “I attempted to fight him off, protect myself until security could arrive and deal with
him,” Peters shook her head, “but he was fast, well trained and I had already lost the full use
of my right arm because of his first blow. He gutted me, caught me right in the stomach”
         Joan nodded; glancing once at her recorder, making sure the small device was still
working.
         “It was at that point that the banging at the hatch started, I could hear the handle
trying to turn but there was also another sound, I wondered at that moment if he had blocked
the door from opening but I also noticed that he appeared to be distracted, though more
annoyed by the sounds outside the door. I used the opportunity to dive forward, knife in my
hand; I knew that that was most likely my last shot at killing him before he finished me off”
         Peters gulped, turning her face away from Joan in distress, “he turned, his knife
caught me again even as my own caught his throat. I thought I had missed everything vital as
he continued to pound his blade into me again and again, the pain forced me to the ground at
that point and I blacked out”
         Joan nodded, “do you remember anything else?”
         “Not until I woke up here,” Peters replied, and Joan didn’t need to look to know that
tears were coming into the eyes of the shaken woman.
         “Thank you,” Joan replied softly, grasping the officer’s hand once, reassuringly
before she left the room.

        “Receiving a tactical update from a Vree Xill class Cruiser,” Hayes noted loudly, her
hands racing as she transferred the data from the communications systems to the tactical
computers, an annoyed frown passing across her features as the data slowly crept across, anti-
virals and hardware scanners taking their turn on the data before allowing its transfer.
        Nodding, Captain Jones turned his gaze onto the rapidly shifting display, unidentified
icons flicking in rapid succession, some to blue, allied, but most glaring red, threat.
        He shook his head warily, and then grimaced, his eyes not missing the fact that the
surviving allied warships were englobed, trapped and unable to escape.
         “Increase speed to Squadron Flank,” he ordered swiftly, “let’s break our allies out”



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Nine

        “Any news on the First Battlegroup?” Weir asked calmly, her expression revealing
her disquiet as she leant on the doorway to the Minbari communications centre.
        “No,” the tall Minbari officer replied, “and I am afraid that judging by the recent ship
movement reports, they have almost certainly run into resistance along the route.”
        Weir nodded grimly, “Thank you,” she replied, before slipping quietly from the room,
her expression pensive.

        “Fire at will!” Jones barked, leaning forward against his restraints as the enemy ships
came into range, several breaking off to engage the encroaching Tau’ri vessels.
        The ship rocked around him, the lights dimming and before him, a bright line raced
from the tactical displays image of the Britannica, intersecting a lurid red dot that abruptly
faded grey, navigational hazard.
        A clean kill with one shot, perfect.
        “Enemy will have range in two seconds,” Hayes noted, her hands dancing their all-too
familiar patterns across her controls, “primarily Drakh Incursion type cruisers.”
        “Christ,” Holst noted from the helm, “just slightly out-massed here.”
        “Nothing new there Lieutenant,” Jones replied, “just hold her steady and have faith in
the shields.”
        “Incoming fire,” Hayes noted dispassionately, then stiffened, an expression of
surprise crossing her face, “now reading shields on three Drakh Cruisers.”
        Jones nodded grimly, that was an annoying but not surprising development. Anubis
was upgrading the warships of his allies, increasing their combat capabilities and therefore
the likelihood of his plans succeeding. So be it.
        The ship rocked, heavily, abruptly, Hayes crying out as her face slammed into the
tactical console, before falling backwards in her seat, the screen in front of her going dark,
inactive as blood dripped down the face of the now quiet, still tactical officer.
        It took only one look at her form for Captain Jones expression to turn dark and stony.
        “Secondary Bridge reports Tactical Control just went active down there,” Holst
reported, not glancing up from his helm controls, his expression revealing his nervousness
and worry.
        “Noted,” Jones replied, “maintain an open vox line to the secondary bridge and
summon medical and a DC team to the bridge, I need the primary tactical console back
online”
        Jones turned his eyes back to the tactical display in time to see a further Drakh ship
vanish from the display, this time caught between the Gauss rifle fire from his own
Britannica and the allied vessels behind trying to break through to the Tau’ri warships.
         The ship rocked again, a voice over the open line to the secondary bridge proclaiming
that shields had been reduced to sixty percent and Jones winced, he hated the Drakh
weaponry, they packed far too much of a punch.
        The ship rocked again and Jones hid a tight, almost malevolent smile, he was
beginning to recognise the distinctive feel of the Ion Cannons fire. On the display in front of
him, the icon for a Drakh cruiser vanished, replaced by two navigational hazard markers and
a victorious flash crossed his face for just a moment, clean kill.
        The tactical display warbled, an expanding band marching across the screen, radiating
out from a fading Drakh marker, shunting ships and fighters aside as the shockwave
dispassionately introduced its own brand of chaos to the fight.
        Jones grinned as he watched the icons for a pair of Drakh cruisers intersect; pushed
into each others path by the blast, then go dull, dark, non-threatening.


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         “Captain,”
         Of course, he noted to himself, something had to go wrong when the enemy started
killing themselves.
         “Overseer is disengaging, shield failure.”
         “Damn,” he noted to himself, glancing across to the readiness read-outs for his own
ships. His eyes widened as he caught sight of the Invincible’s display, low on ammo and
shields greatly reduced, she would be forced to break off soon enough too.
         “Do we have guidance lock?” he asked quietly, knowing that the sensitive
microphones would really his words to the secondary bridge even at the low volume at which
he spoke.
         “Fleet guidance lock aye Captain,” the reply came, “targets, a trio of Drakh cruisers
however barrage effectiveness is compromised by enemy fighters and anti-missile batteries.”
         “I am aware of that,” Jones noted somewhat displeased, “helm, bring us to bear.
Tactical, fire as she bears.”
         He glanced back towards the display, grimacing as the icon for Britannica slewed
sidewards, the better to present its missile batteries to the enemy, but it left their largest
aspect exposed to enemy fire. The icons for the remaining ships of the battlegroup maintained
their heads on profile, only the Prometheus tilting to give a better firing aspect.
         The Britannica rocked, the abruptness revealing the movement as the result of enemy
fire even as the icons representing the ships portside mounted missile batteries emptied. Jones
eyebrow rose slightly in surprise as the ships icon rolled, then he grinned maliciously as the
starboard batteries fired off their load-out of missiles.
         He just wished at that moment that the technical division had figured out a safe and
workable auto-reloader for the missile tubes. He imagined the enemies face as the ship kept
rolling, launching as each battery came to bear would be a picture. As it was, he know had to
wait for the tubes to be manually reloaded.
         “Invincible disengaging,”
         Jones grunted at the report, it was not unexpected, but each ship forced to drop back
was one less hull to fire at the enemy. It was more then an annoyance.
         He turned his eyes back to the tactical display, and nodded, well, the enemies
numbers were too great for them to be destroyed, but it looked as if they were about to be
defeated.
         The Allied warships were about to break through.
         “Signal the allied vessels, they are to fall back behind us, escape to hyperspace and
wait for us there, as soon as the last ship is past, we will join them and move as one to
friendlier skies.”


Ten

        “Reports leaked to us from the Royal Space Service indicate that an assassination
attempt against Thundersdawn station Commander and chief of Earth’s defences
Commodore Peters was narrowly averted this week despite heightened security surrounding
the station since Disclosure.
        How, or even why this assassination occurred is not yet know, what is know for
certain is that this is not the first of the disturbing reports coming out of the station to have
reached our ears. Overwork, staffing difficulties and even sabotage, all of which have a
severe knock-on effect on the security and safety of our world.
        The Royal Space Service has yet to respond publicly to these reports, but is rumoured
to be taking the situation extremely seriously indeed”


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        “The Second Great Fire of London is now over, the devastated city smoulders today
as the weary but jubilant fire-fighters, auxiliaries and volunteers began the time consuming
task of making the city safe. Joined by military and civilian engineers and work crews from,
so far seven nations, the task of now cooling down the smouldering ruins, bulldozing the
wreckage and assessing what can be saved and what needs to go had begun.
        It’s estimated that about two thirds of the city lie in ruins, the damage enough to make
the insurance industry collectively weep. Rebuilding here will take years.
        But years the government doesn’t have. The cities population exceeded 7 million
years before the events of Disclosure and the evacuation. Whilst it is certainly true that
between the Goa’uld attacks on the city and the fire that many are dead, there are still untold
millions crowding in makeshift camps surrounding the city, desperate for food, water, basic
sanitation and in many areas, a heavy police presence.
         All of these they are looking to an increasingly battered and besieged government
for, but the aid they need is being slow to appear and time is running out”

         “Stargate Command, currently housed at an unidentified location, has confirmed the
arrival through the Stargate of food and medical supplies from several of our off-world
allies, believed to include the Orbanians, the Edorans and the Land of the Light. The Land of
the Light is noteworthy here as Stargate Command has increasingly and with the co-
operation of the natives, used the planet as an off-world medical facility”

        “The trials began in closed courts today of the Military personnel and civilian
conspirators arrested for treason and attempting to subvert the constitutional Government in
the immediate aftermath of disclosure.
        The largest group ever arrested by the American government for such crimes, these
individuals are under constant watchful guard, not just to prevent their escape, but to prevent
their murder. We know attempts have been made on their lives, at least one of which was by
the original Guard detail themselves and one has to wonder, even if found not guilty, how
long do these people truly have left to live?
        Mud has been thrown, and this kind does not ever wash off.”

        “Stargate Command and the Royal Star Service have today issued a call for qualified
individuals to apply for Colonisation rights on Alpha Prime. Such individuals will undergo a
security check but the positions these services are looking to fill range from structural
engineers to teachers, covering the whole range of jobs a virgin colony will need. The
websites of both agencies currently have a list of five thousand positions they wish to fill for
this second wave of colonisation, and both specifically state that preference will be given to
family groupings”

       “Both the Royal Star Service and Stargate Command websites went down earlier
today after a record surge of visitors overloaded the capacity of the servers following the
announcement of Colonisation opportunities on Alpha Prime in the Alpha Centauri system.
       A statement issued by Stargate Command indicates that both agencies are currently
working to add capacity to their servers and intend to have the sites back up before tomorrow
however gives no guarantee as to when the sites will be live again.
       It is perhaps fortunate that both agencies use separate server farms for their
Operational, as opposed to Public Relations duties”




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        “A cylon attack on the Alpha Centauri system was rebuffed earlier today after the
attacking basestars were successfully caught between the systems small defence fleet, ably
supported by the Colonial Battlestar Galactica and the massed guns of Ravenbright station.
The station, still incomplete, is the most heavily fortified position currently available to our
space forces”

        “Akin perhaps to the British Spitfire Funds of the Second World War, a wave of extra
moneys is being donated to the Royal Space service and Stargate Command by the general
public. This money is intended solely the purchase of fixed emplacements such as the Type I,
Type II and the upcoming Type III to reinforce Earth’s weakened and paltry defence grid.
        This idea, revived by a Senator from Iowa, has so far raised enough money in
America alone to fund an additional thirty satellites, enough we are told, to provide adequate
cover for one city. This is despite inadequate advertising of the program in the rush to get
this idea running”

         “A Military Coup has occurred within China.
         In the Early hours of this morning, troops of the Chinese army moved into the
Government buildings in Beijing and seized control. Details are sketchy at this point, the
situation extremely confused, but we have reason to believe the Premier has been arrested
but is still alive.
         At this point in time, we do not know why this coup occurred or how it managed to
take the Chinese government so completely by surprise but rumours are reaching us that it is
related to the recent more aggressive policy taken by China with regards not just to Taiwan,
but with their relations with the US and the other starfaring nations”


Eleven

        “Captain Jones,” Weir commented, walking into the briefing room, “I heard you had a
fun trip.”
        Snorting, the Captain of the Britannica bit back a startled laugh as he replied, “you
could say that. Two major scuffles on route, both Invincible and Overseer requiring repairs
and munitions severely depleted. Luckily, we lost no ships. We did lose a good few people
though.”
        “Personnel I can’t help you with,” Weir shrugged, sliding into the seat opposite the
Captain, “as far as repairs go, well the local shipyards are getting better at repairing Earth
built and captured Goa’uld vessels but security implications make it troublesome and frankly,
they still aren’t set up for it. If any major work is required, I would suggest you send them
home.”
        “We would have to escort them home,” Jones noted, “Anubis seems intent on
blocking off reinforcements and supplies from Tau’ri space, not that there is going to be too
many of them given the recent situations.”
        “Indeed, but the Tau’ri vessels in the area are the most powerful of the Alliance ships,
I can see why he wouldn’t want more arriving.”
        “True enough perhaps,” Jones nodded, “but the battlegroup is reduced to three
operational hulls already, I’m afraid your reinforcements might just have to turn and head
back home.”
        Grimacing, Weir leaned back in the alien seat, “can I interest you in a party before
you go?”
        Jones raised an interested eyebrow.


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        “Anubis has a major resupply base he is launching the brunt of his attacks from,”
Weir held Jones’s eyes, “it’s heavily guarded, but the Minbari warrior sect believe that if the
base is knocked out, that Anubis will be forced to either replace it, buying us time, or to
launch his assaults from further back. None of the facilities and resupply points behind this
main facility, code-named Poseidon, are anywhere near as extensive.”
        “We can’t launch a major assault with three operational hulls,” Jones pointed out.
        “You won’t be,” Weir grinned, “the Alliance is assembling a major taskforce not far
from the front. Prometheus and Independence have already joined the fleet, but three extra
hulls would not be complained about.”
        “Are your Dauntless class vessels, the Indomitable and the Interrogator I believe,
joining the assault?”
        “No,” the Tau’ri Ambassador to the Alliance shook her head, “They, along with the
Dawn of Valour are standing guard over Babylon 3.”
        Jones glanced up sharply, “they’ve started work on a replacement?”
        “The keel plate had been laid, but little more then that.”
        “I don’t think command is aware of that fact,” Jones pointed out.
        “I wouldn’t be surprised,” Weir replied, “the distance makes communication difficult,
and the lingering remnant of the hyper barrier doesn’t help either,”
        Jones nodded, accepting that, “still, it is perhaps fortunate that you kept the
Dauntless’es out of the assault, if our experience en-route is anything to go by, their stamina
and protection is insufficient for wall duties.”
        Weir raised an eyebrow questioningly, “wall duties?”
        Captain Jones glanced up startled, then frowned, “sorry, forgot for the moment that
you aren’t a naval officer. It’s an old term, holdover from the days of sail and wooden hulled
warships. A ship of the wall in basic terms is just a ship capable of holding its own in a major
multi-ship engagement. The Dauntless class, whilst exceptional at rapid reaction, raiding and
scouting duties, appears inadequate as fair as ‘ship of the wall’ or ‘ship of the line’ duties are
concerned but Command already suspected that. The issue was actually part of my briefing
packet when I assumed temporary command of the Battlegroup.”
        “I see,”
        “So, I think you had best tell me more about this assault…”

        “Could you repeat that please?” Admiral of the Fleet Thomas asked, dangerously
calmly, “Because it sounded to me dangerously like you said that RSS security has been
compromised by the Cylons.”
        “I’m afraid so,” Commander Joan Williams replied darkly, “the clincher was of
course finding a Cylon inside the logistics department and confirming that the assassin who
attacked the Commodore was a Cylon but in both instances the Cylons used models not
previously seen,”
        “How the hell did they manage to get two Cylons past our security?”
        “At this point in time, its not as difficult as any of us would like,” Joan replied,
knowing that the information she had just had pointed out to her by security would not be
welcomed here, “phase one of a background check involves a records check, but everyone
has their records online nowadays and these can be and have been hacked by humans, let
alone beings that can directly hook themselves up to the internet. That’s not mentioning the
backbone satellites, at which point all it takes is a raider getting close enough for a sufficient
length of time to do some subtle reprogramming…”
        The Admirals face was stony, granite like.
        “The records issue has always been a problem and why Phase two, a discreet check
amongst neighbours, old school photos etc has been a part of the security check for many


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years,” Jones continued, “but there are also ways around this, and for certain agencies that is
practically SOP. Not to mention, there are legitimate reasons why a phase two check might
not be possible,”
        “That explains infiltration perhaps,” Thomas replied, making a mental note to have a
very long ‘discussion’ with security, “but Cylons were screened for specifically.”
        “And according to the records, both known Cylons were screened on at least three
occasions,” she replied, “the first check was of course visual identification of known models
which found none, but the latter checks were hidden as part of the standard yearly medicals.
The records being suspect whenever Cylons are concerned, I interviewed the Doctors listed
as having carried out the checks on the off chance and hit the jack-pot. Doctor Jones-
Somersby who carried out the last recorded medical on our assassin has a photographic
memory; she knows that she has never done a medical on our assassin though interestingly
she has seen him, or at least a copy of him, on a visit to Ravenbright station, a place our
assassin has never been. That is of course, according to the records.”
        Thomas turned the air blue.
        “I’m afraid that I suspect I’ve only touched the surface as far as the infiltration goes
Admiral,” Joan replied evenly, “we may have underestimated the cylons, greatly.”


Twelve

        “My God,” Holst quietly commented, his expression awed as he gazed up at the main
display, “how many ships are there?”
        “Attend to your station Lieutenant,” Jones barked out annoyed, there was a time and a
place for gazing at the screen awed and with this many contacts, now was exactly the time for
helm to be alert and ready. Not that he could stop himself gazing at the screen shocked, but
then, he wasn’t directly responsible for making sure they avoided hitting anything, that was
Helms job.
        “Captain,” Hayes commented from the tactical console, her voice just slightly slurred,
a lingering remnant of the hit she had taken in the last engagement, just like the bandage
across her forehead, “I’m reading one-hundred and ninety-eight warship contacts, as well as
thousands of fighters and associated small warcraft.”
        “Let’s just hope its enough,” Jones noted, “signal the Task-Force Commander and get
us our assignment,”

         “Okay, so how do we combat this kind of threat?” Thompson asked, gazing around
the boardroom, his eyes catching each of those present in turn, be they actually present in the
room on video conference.
        “It’s obvious that standard security procedures are not enough,” O’Neill noted with a
frown, his image distorting subtly as he moved, “frankly, we must assume the security
services themselves have been compromised at some level.”
        “Unfortunately, we cant just replace the security services in total,” Joan Williams
pointed out, grimacing as she leant back in her seat, one of the few who was actually present
in the room itself, “we have to assume that such breeches that exist can be found and will be
found by the appropriate departments. The nasty part here of course, is that we are dealing
with a combined HumInt and ElInt attack on our security.”
        “Excuse me?” Kalinda asked, her image one marked in the corner by the icons of
Research and Development, the department she was a senior member of, and Thundersdawn
station, where she was currently located, “HumInt? ElInt?”



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         Thompson nodded, “HumInt is human based intelligence, sources, spies that sort of
thing. In the case of the Cylons it would refer to both the twelve models and to collaborators.
ElInt is electronic intelligence; in this case, we are talking primarily infiltration of the Internet
and associated computers as well as the military networks used by both Stargate Command
and the Royal Space Service.”
          “We certainly should have the backbone satellites taken out of service;” Lord
Holmes, “Lord Knows the volume of data being transmitted through them means that all they
have to do is passively watch and they will learn a considerable amount.”
         “Such transmissions are often not even encrypted or if they are, they use encryption
methods that we can swiftly break, let alone a race of computers,” Joan agreed.
         “That will remove Internet access from large areas of the developing world, some
small segments of the developed world, most shipping,” Hammond noted.
         “Not to mention the knock-on effect on international calls, the disabling of satellite
phones,” O’Neill agreed.
         Kalinda frowned, “as much as I hate to say this, I have to agree with Lord Holmes;
those satellites have been well used and have proven themselves useful and powerful tools.
Unfortunately, most of their value comes from convenience and that convenience is exactly
what the Cylons can make most usage of. Whatever else happens, we have to have a certain
degree of satellite access open publicly, if only for emergency calls in regions where the land-
line capability is marginal or non-existent. We can’t afford to broadcast all our secrets into
space any more.”
         “Means more reliance on cables,” O’Neill pointed out, “cables can be intercepted
too,”
         “But somebody has to be in place to do that,” Joan replied, “cables can be protected,
watched, monitored far easier then a transmission which can just be, as Lord Holmes said,
passively intercepted.”
         “There are methods to reduce signal interception,” Hammond shook his head, “but
half the battle is knowing signalling is taking place and the Cylons could safely assume that
was a given where such satellites are present.”
         “You’re talking low powered, directed signals and masking encryptions that make the
signal look like static?” Kalinda asked swiftly.
         “Mostly,” Hammond nodded, “such techniques are useful for military and secured
government communications of course, but for civilian infrastructure, cheaper and easier to
redesign for purely cabled infrastructure.”
         “Very well,” Thompson sighed, “I will have the proposal properly drawn up and
forwarded to the President. Most of the backbone satellites belong to America anyway, but
it’s a proposal that won’t be well liked.”
         “I’m afraid,” Lord Holmes noted, “that right now we are merely paying for years of
placing convenience over security.”
         “Wasn’t much of an issue,” O’Neill grimaced, “not until the Cylons appeared.”
          “But it is an issue now,” Thompson shook his head, “and will have to be dealt with as
such.”
         “As far as passive signal interception goes,” Joan noted, “it may be worth revising and
tightening up our own signalling procedures. The Goa’ulds have never shown much interest
in ElInt so procedures have been lax. That will have to be nipped right in the bud.”
         “Agreed,” Hammond replied, “for short distance communications, tight-band
transmissions, awkward though they can sometimes be with line of sight issues, should be the
norm. It gets trickier for long distance transmissions though and we can’t entirely mask such
transmissions.”



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        “The initial signal has to be unmasked, simply to ensure the receiver understands that
a signal is in progress, then the signal can be masked,” Joan glanced up, gazing around the
room, “technical services has experimented with this. If the initial signal is sent masked, it is
almost invariably missed. If the receiver is set to look for masked initiate signals, then there
are also false positive issues.”
        “That does generally mean that the bulk of a transmission is masked and in theory
unnoticeable however,” Hammond pointed out, “more use of microburst transmissions would
also reduce intercept issues.”
        Thompson leaned back in his seat, rubbing his forehead, “don’t forget that security
has been compromised and we still don’t know exactly how deeply. It is entirely possible that
our masking methodology is compromised.”
        O’Neill whistled, “Nasty thought.”
        “The nature of space being what it is,” Kalinda glanced at O’Neill, “they will get
more false positives then actual signals. Unfortunately, Murphy doesn’t play favourites; the
signal they do manage to get is likely to be the one signal we would rather they didn’t.”
        Thompson raised an eyebrow, “getting cynical aren’t we? What happened to the
somewhat arrogant but highly self-confident scientist ordered me out of my own office some
twelve years ago now?”
        Kalinda snorted, “She got herself a permanent resident who thinks ‘physical
relationships’ are gross and disturbing.”
        O’Neill coughed, hiding his smile behind his hand and he wasn’t the only one.
        “That aside,” Lord Holmes shook his head, “we still have to deal with finding these
Cylons that are now inside our service, dealing with the damage they have caused and
reducing the chance of further such infiltration.”
        “What we really need is IDs for each Cylon model,” Hammond grimaced, “which,
despite assistance from the Boomer unit that was successfully freed by Enerina, we still don’t
have.”
        “Then I suggest that its time we took the information we need from the Cylons,”
Thompson sent each of the officers present a hard look, “one way or another.”
        The moments silence that followed was broken finally by General O’Neill, “I’m sure
Admiral Adama would enjoy the opportunity. Certainly, Colonial morale could do with the
boast a successful offensive operation would give their morale.”
        “Do you wish me to call Admiral Adama and President Roslin into the conference
Admiral?” Joan Williams asked.
        “Yes,” Thompson replied, “I think you should.”

         Admiral Adama glanced around the bridge of the Galactica, his expression calm, but
his eyes smiling, this was where he belonged; this was where he was meant to be. And this
was a mission he could enjoy.
         “All stations report Condition One Admiral, we are clear to jump,”
         Nodding, he glanced one final time around the room, missing if only for a moment the
familiar figures of Dualla, Gaeta and Tigh, but they all had commands of there own these
days. Still, these few knew what they were doing and they understood the ‘upgraded’ systems
of the new Galactica.
         They would do, they would have too.
         Not that he felt everything the so-called ‘Tau’ri’ did to his Lady was an improvement
mind, but he did have to admit that she was now the deadliest she had ever been.
         “Jump,” he said quietly, assured in the brief moments of his glance around the room
that all was ready; all was as it should be.



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Thirteen

         Jones watched with hard eyes as the tactical display ebbed and flowed in front of him,
the massed forces of the Alliance race, the Minbari, the Narn and the League fighting and
dieing in the face of vicious resistance by Anubis forces, primarily the Drakh but bolstered
by warships of the Shadows and the Goa’uld. There did not appear to be any Cylons in his
force, an interesting omission.
         His trained eye didn’t miss that the allies were slowly pushing forward, slowly
winning over the out-numbered but certainly not out-gunned enemy, but he was also more
then aware that, as yet, the fixed defences of the station itself had yet to be dealt with and
they would be a real problem soon enough.
         His fist clenched as he watched another capital ship vanish from the scope, hundreds,
perhaps thousands of sentients wiped out of existence in the brief glare of a munitions locker
explosion.
         He resisted the urge to order his ship forward, to join the assault. Like it or not, his
place and the place of his fleet was back here, the reserve, ready to bolster any faltering
section of the line with more firepower then any allied taskforce of similar size could
manage.
         His eyes narrowed, resting on the right flank, watching as just for a moment, it
faltered, fire slackening as the command ship for the section was destroyed. Would his ships
be ordered forward? But no, the second was quick to take command, to rally his forces, the
disruption only momentary. They would hold, and they would push forward.
         But wait, the station had ordered the last of their ships forward to reinforce the line,
they were unmasked. Such an opportunity…
         “Signal the Command Ship, the station is unmasked. Request permission to bypass
the main battlelines and engage the target,”
         If the Alliance troops could keep the enemy warships engaged then they could destroy
the station in time and with heavy damage perhaps. But that wasn’t the point, the fact that
they were fighting so hard to defend a fixed point meant it was highly likely that a direct
attack on the station would force them to break off from the allies and move to engage his
small band of ships. Forewarned, the allies would have little difficulty capitalising on such on
an attempt to disengage, losses to Anubis’s forces would be heavy, perhaps enough to break
their line.
         Jones knew all this and more would be racing through the Commanders head at the
moment, he also knew it would place his ships in much danger and potentially cost the entire
fleet. The battle needed to end soon though, otherwise they might be faced with a tactical
victory in their destruction of the facility but a strategic loss due to the losses being inflicted
upon the allies weaker warships.
         He nodded as permission was given, time to move. But perhaps he could have a little
fun with the enemy first?
         “Order all ships to set ECM to maximum, and then take us flank speed on a course
above the battleline and through,”
         Captain Jones grinned evilly as he watched the enemy line falter, its Captains
knowing that his fleet was on the move, but not, thanks to the ECM, truly knowing as to
where.

       “All right people,” Starbuck glanced up, her eyes resting on the pilots of her
squadron, noting that she had her full attention, noting the eagerness and the fear in their eyes
and the proud rigid way, but scared way they held themselves at this moment. Good, a little



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fear was healthy, it helped keep you alive. Of course, that didn’t work so much for her, but
hey, not everyone could be Kara Thrace right?
         “You’re all aware that we’ve left friendly territory and are headed back into the
badlands,” Thrace snorted, “if you have any brain cells in your heads, you’ve also noticed the
fact that not only do we have our normal complement of two patrol boats locked to the base
of the ship, but we also a veteran squadron of boats from Earth as well, Patrol one, the
‘Blastboat’ squadron. Currently under strength with only four birds operational, but still a
very formidable fighting force.”
         She glanced down, just for a moment at her notes, then gazed at her pilots once more,
carefully catching the eyes of those who looked like they might falter, trying to reassure them
with gaze alone, “all this adds up to an offensive operation, that at least the rumour got right.”
         The room stilled utterly, the loudest sound the faint, muffled whirring of the
ventilation, “but this is not going to be a simple blow the frak out of everything job people,
both Admiralty’s have decided who know far too little about the Cylons, and that dissecting a
basestar would be a good place to start.”
         The silence changed, no longer anticipatory, now it was utterly shocked. Kara guessed
at five seconds before they would get their tongues working, she wasn’t wrong either
         “Silence!” she shouted, bringing quiet once more to the room once she felt they had
had enough time to vent, “this is going to be a boarding action and its our job to keep the
boarding craft alive…”

        “My Lord, the battle goes well, our losses are heavy but not exceptionally so and the
enemy thinks they have the advantage now.”
        “Is the station unmasked as I ordered?”
        “The last of the defending warships have just moved to the frontlines My Lord.”
        “Excellent, now prepare my fleet to attack, but remember, I want the Britannica
intact. The Tollan may have designed their Ion weapons to prevent them being backward
engineered but I’m sure the Tau’ri weapons shall be a far easier task,”

       Monitor Post SC-1094-B Transmissions Log:
       Transmission Sent TO: (Local Command) Basestar CX-8891-C
       Copy: HQ-Caprica
       Departed 10:06CCT BSG Galactica, accompanied by patrol craft: Virgon, Libra,
Cerberus, Black Prince, White Knight, Rifleman. BSG75 boarded by significant quantities of
support craft, Paladin type prior to jumping including estimated One-Half regiment of troops.
Recommend full alert status.

       Monitor Post SC-1094-B Transmissions Log:
       Transmission Sent TO: (Local Command) Basestar CX-8891-C
       Copy: HQ-Caprica
       Immediately post last transmission, multiple fight craft detected launching from
Ravenbright, Freedom. Craft now en-route this location. High probability transmission was
detected. Unit Compromised, Auto-destruct activated.


Fourteen

        It was going too easy.
        That thought was running through Jones’s head constantly as his small group of ships
raced towards the Goa’uld station that was the mission objective. None of the ships at the


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front line had broken off to attempt to find them, none of them had followed them, tracing
their general location by the emissions of their active ECM transmissions and they should
have. Jones was well aware that they knew how to track them by their active transmissions.
         He suspected they had as well, the line had settled down as soon as his fleet was past.
That suggested that they had been tracked, and that the enemy had chosen to let them into
their rear, a damned dangerous place to have hostile forces. Unless of course, that was were
you wanted them in the first place.
         Unless of course… oh hell.
         “Reinforce Shields! Evasive! All ships, watch for ambush!”

         Secessionist HQ-Caprica Transmissions Log:
         Message Received: 01:07CCT
         Sent By: Basestar CX-8891-C
         Possible contact detected vicinity this vessel. Detected on approach path, unidentified
craft, tentatively identified as possible minor warship not repeat not responding to hails.
Contact is not broadcasting IFF on known Cylon or Sub-Cylon protocols.
         Raider group launched this time to investigate.

       Message Received: 01:18CCT
       Sent By: Basestar CX-8891-C
       Raider group returning this time, reported contact with ‘Loyalist’ Heavy Raider
modified to long-range recon standards. Craft detonated nuclear payload to escape capture
and reconditioning, destroying 5 of 6 Raiders sent to investigate contact. This confirmed by
Basestars own detection of EMP Pulse the vicinity of the engagement.
       Lone survivor returning heavily
       [Unexpected Termination Of Signal]

        “Signal from the Libra, White-out,”
        Adama hid his tight grin as the room dissolved into cheers for just a moment. Good,
he had honestly not expected Dualla’s crazy plan to work, faking the enemy into sending out
raiders, destroying the raiders in rather visible fashion and then pretending to be one of them
to get close to the basestar?
        It was still the best suggested plan for shutting the basestar up before it could call for
reinforcement, but so many things could have gone wrong…. And apparently didn’t.
        “Initiate the jump!” Adama ordered, his voice firm, his glare causing his bridge crew
to return hurriedly to their jobs, “We still have a job to do.”

        The Britannica rocked, the backwash from the energies impacting on the shields
making the ship groan and writhe in protest even as her open weapons spat out a deadly rain
of gauss rounds, searing bolts of pulse laser energy and the charged inferno of the Ion
cannon.
        The rain caught a Ha’tak just long enough, the vessel crippled, floating away
uncontrolled and burning, out-of the fight. The weapons switched immediately, obeying the
targeting protocols set down by their makers, but struggling to figure out which target was the
biggest threat for the besieged and surrounded warship.
        Once again, Jones caught the icon of a computer override on his screen as Hayes
ordered the petulant computers to attack a target of her choosing
        “Why aren’t they trying to kill us?” Jones murmured pensively, knowing full well that
they should be dead, would be dead if the enemy was firing full strength bursts at them. But



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the enemy wasn’t, they were firing low powered bursts but enough of them that the shields
were slowly being eroded but not enough to destroy the ship should the shields fail.
       He felt a sudden chill in his stomach as realisation settled sickeningly over him.
       “Captain, I’m reading Tel’tac launches and we’ve got multiple refusals registering
from the Ring control computers,”
       Jones glanced up grimly at Hayes words, knowing all too well what that meant, “issue
weapons to the crew and be prepared to repel boarders.”
       He glanced just for a moment at the tactical display, and then turned to his chair
computer, typing in commands and codes he had memorised and hoped never to have to use.
With a heavy heart, Captain Jones activated his Battlecruisers auto-destruct, activating a
protocol specifically designed to deal with a potential capture situation.
       Now, he or another senior officer would have to reset the autodestruct every five
minutes. If they didn’t, well, it wouldn’t be an issue for long.

        “Anubis sets fine bait,” Anla-shok Dehen commented bitterly from the bridge of the
Sharlin class Valen.
        “That he does,” Delenn replied, shaking her head in dismay, “can we break through
and assist them?”
        “Not at this time Delenn,” Dehen shook his head, “we will break through in time,
unless he sees fit to reinforce his lines, but I am afraid that by then it will almost certainly be
too late.”
        “We can not allow a vessel as powerful as a Tau’ri Britannica to fall into Anubis’s
hands.”
        “I agree, but at this time there is little we can do,”
        Delenn shook her head in reluctant acknowledgement, then stilled, turning her gaze
towards the ranger, her expression dark, reluctant but at the same time, hopeful, proud,
“except perhaps ask for volunteers.”
        “You have a thought Delenn?”
        “The bait is indeed fine and if we take it, Anubis will have little choice but to respond,
unless he is willing to just give such a valuable facility up.”
        “We could not break a significant number of vessels from the line, it would be a
suicide mission,” Dehen paused, then grimaced, “I see. You’ll get your volunteers Delenn, I
just hope this will be worth their sacrifice.”

        “Frak!” Starbuck cursed, grimacing as another nuke slipped past her line of fighters,
only to be intercepted by the Paladins own guns, “we’re letting too many through people, we
might not have lost one of our flock yet but that’s only because the flock has teeth of its own.
Now tighten it up!”
        Not, she admitted to herself, that that was going to be that easy, what with missile
launches from the both the basestar and the swarm of fighters it had launched. Oh yes, and
they also had to destroy the fighters too, make sure they didn’t make it through to the
Paladins. Real piece of cake.
        Oh yes, and they were racing towards the basestar all the time which meant the time
to intercept missiles from the basestar was constantly decreasing.
        “Leaker!”
        Kara’s blood turned to ice, and she glanced across to the Paladins in time to see one
of the small craft, more normally used a cargo ship by the markings and evidently hinged rear
section die, spilling bodies into space as the hull peeled back, the force of the air rushing
from the compromised hull making the weapons damage swiftly worse.



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        A second Paladin died as she raced towards the Cylon Raider, hoping to kill it before
they could lose any more of the valuable craft, but before she could get close, the Raider
died. Moments later a Paladin, still bearing the markings of the construction yard darted
through the Raiders debris cloud, its turreted Pulse Lasers locking onto her fighter for a
moment, before swinging around, searching for more targets.
        ‘Beaten by a utility craft,’ Kara muttered to herself as she turned back to the main
battleline, ‘I’m never going to live this down.’


Fifteen

         “My Lord,”
         Anubis turned his head, displeased by the interruption that was disrupting his
enjoyment of the death and destruction occurring in the space outside his ships windows.
         The Jaffa in front of him gulped, knowing that his life was likely forfeit if he
displeased his God with his words, true though they might be, “a group of enemy ships have
broken off the main engagement and are racing towards the station. They lack the strength in
weapons and armour to break the stations defences conventionally…”
         Thoroughly annoyed, Anubis turned his head from the trembling warrior to his
tactical displays, grimacing at the icons that were racing towards his bait. Anla-shok, those
pestilent foes were always so righteous, so honourable. It was truly fun breaking them, but
now five of their ships supported by seven vessels of the ‘normal’ soldiery could only mean
one thing. That wasn’t force enough to break the station by arms, but it was enough to ensure
at least one ship would survive long enough to ram.
         That was a problem.
         “How does the ambush fare?” he hissed, his words settling like ice into the ears of his
Jaffa.
         “Losses are high but the Tau’ri are contained for now,”
         Anubis settled back in his seat, “signal the station, if they fall, I will find their
families, their fathers, their mothers, their wives and their children, and I will have them
tortured, screaming at my feet for divine mercy, and they shall receive none.”
         The Jaffa gulped, saying only “My Lord,” before fleeing the room.

        “Fires now reported in thirteen compartments,”
        “Persephone reports main engines offline.”
        “Munitions chain buckled for the port aft gauss,”
        “Shields critical, we need more power!”
        “Searcher taking armour hits, no shields remaining on their port.”
        Grimacing, his eyes reflecting his inner fears, his near despair at the hopeless situation
they found themselves in, properly ambushed by Anubis’s forces, Captain Jones turned
towards Hayes, “any sign of reinforcement?”
        “Negative,” she replied grimly, “I have a group of ships moving towards the target but
Anubis does not appear to be diverting any forces to deal with them, there is no movement
towards our location that I can detect.”
        Jones nodded, grimly, his eyes glancing swiftly over the remaining working situation
displays and readouts, “then we are lost. Divert all power from life-support, go to half-power
on gravity, and divert the energy to shields and weapons. Then verify the integrity of the
scuttling charges, we may just need them.”

       “They’re knee-deep in dog-shit Captain,”


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        “I know,”
        “Can’t we move faster?”
        “Not if we want to remain undetected, no.”
        “Christ boss, they’re dieing out there!”
        “And if Anubis gets any wind of us being here before we’re ready to give notice, we
will die swiftly, abruptly and very futilely. We’re not exactly fully operational you know. No,
a few minutes more… then we strike.”
        “Aye, I just hope they’re still bloody alive to witness it.”
        The Captain didn’t bother replying, his mind was on exactly the same thought.

         Primary Log: Basestar CX-8891-C
         01:20CCT: Transmissions jammed, unable to confirm receipt of transmission time
stamped 01:18CCT to HQ-Caprica.
         01:20CCT: Jamming Analysed, confirmed relating to long-range comms only.
Designating source craft as hostile. Designating source craft for destruction.
         01:22CCT: Hostile craft redesignated as unknown, sensor profile is corrupted,
analysis indicates an 87% probability vessels actual profile is deliberately masked.
         01:24CCT: Raiders now engaging unidentified craft. Casualties high. Identification of
craft still uncertain, inability of Raiders to visually identify contacts unhelpful. Recommend
modification to add this ability in light of the wider variety of contacts possible since
isolation ended.
         01:25CCT: Primary transmitter array destroyed, downloading logs to Raider 6759-
AE65-56HC. Raider ordered to report immediately to HQ-Caprica.
         01:26CCT: Raider 6759-AE65-56HC confirmed destroyed by new contacts.
         01:26CCT: Secondary and Tertiary Transmitters destroyed. Secondary Sensor
emitters destroyed. Damage is focused; analysis indicates 67% probability of capture attempt.
Attempting auto-destruct.
         01:27CCT: Core Code Override: Unable to auto-destruct. Auto-destruct disallowed by
Holy Scripture. Recommending analysis and possible modification of core code with regards
to fundamental conflict: Writ of Scripture, Military Intelligence, Denial thereof to enemy.
         01:27CCT: All transmission ability, sensor and communications lost, assuming
squadrons now operating independently. Ordering issue of weapons to Organic Models.
         01:27CCT: Error Logged: Insufficient weapons, weapons only available for 23% of
organic crew.
         01:28CCT: Damaged Raider interfaced with systems for repairs. Utilising craft as
communications relay and resuming co-ordinated control of Raider squadron activity.
         01:28CCT: Alert. BSG detected, BSG-75 Galactica confirmed arrival in system.
         01:28CCT: Raider sensors confirm multiple support craft arriving by hyperspace.
89% probability these are Paladin craft. Capture attempt probability now 97%. Initial
contacts now redesignated probable MTB or MGB class.
         01:30CCT: Initial contacts maintaining close contact but not engaging at this time.
Contacts close enough to prevent jump. Designating one squadron Raiders to destroy these
contacts. Other squadrons designated to destroy Paladin support craft in order to prevent
boarding action and accompanying fighter screen.
         01:31CCT: New code compile created and uploaded: Ships weapons new targeting
option: target by Raider direction. Estimated efficiencies: Rate of fire: -20% Accuracy of fire:
-15% Range of fire: Inconclusive.
         Recommendations logged: Analysis and approval of code by dedicated coders.
Improvement of code by same to reduce inefficiencies. Note: Code does allow fire at targets



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out of LOS, adaptation of missiles to utilise this ability more fully may produce noteworthy
advantages in combat situations.
        01:33CCT: Raiders unable to break in force through Viper lines. All Viper engaged
confirmed by performance to be of newest models (8,9). Raider losses considerable, Viper
losses minimal, Paladin losses minimal.
        01:35CCT: All available weapons now issued. Organic units confirm readiness to
repel boarders. Centurions deployed and at full readiness. Estimate ten minutes to
commencement of boarding action, location uncertain.


Sixteen

        Cursing, Joan ducked her head back behind the cover of the run down and boarded up
old house, chips of shattered brick filling the air around her as bullets slammed into the wall
mere inches from her head.
        She really got the impression her presence wasn’t welcomed.
        The bullets stopped, but Joan resisted the urge to pop her head back around the corner
to check the enemy movement, that was what had almost lost her her face the first time.
Instead, she reached swiftly into her pocket, pulling a small mirror like those used by dentists
to see the back of their patients teeth from the cavernous depths of the field jacket.
Grimacing, she gingerly pushed the mirror around the corner, carefully trying to see what the
enemy was up too.
        Grimacing, she wiggled the mirror around, trying to see into every corner of the
abandoned housing estate. Nothing, but then, she hadn’t seen anything in the first place, just
the odd feeling as she walked to the rendezvous with an informer that she was being watched.
        One of these days she might actually figure out why she had felt the abrupt
compulsion to dive into cover that saved her life, but for now she would have to just be
grateful for it and hope she could hold out long enough for her back-up to extract her.
        Shaking her head slightly in disgust and dismay, she quickly checked six then began
glancing swiftly around for a more defensible position in which to hide.

        “How are the new designs for Stargate Command going?” O’Neill asked, his
expression concerned as he gazed upon the face of his old friend, General ‘Disaster’ Davies.
        “Slowly,” Davis shrugged, his expression weary, “the architects are taking their time
which isn’t helping my grey hairs any. The gate is currently in a rather… exposed location
and vulnerable to being detected, let alone breeched. I will feel a lot safer when we can get
the gate back underground again.”
        “I heard a rumour…” O’Neill commented slowly, “that the new design would allow
vehicles through the gate,”
        Nodding, Davis chuckled, “do you remember how much fun we had getting those
British scout tanks through the gate for that rescue mission?”
        The former commander of SG-1 rolled his eyes in dismay, “opening up the top of the
mountain, lowering each tank one by one into the gateroom, carefully aligning it with the
gate, making sure there was enough room for the gate to open then driving it through… then
having to reverse that for every tank that returned. Not exactly something you would forget in
a hurry.”
        “Neither, I imagine, were the Jaffa’s faces the first time they saw a Scimitar,” Davis
pointed out, making O’Neill chuckle in agreement, “either way, that mission proved that
driving tanks through the gate could be done and that it could be an effective technique but
the logistic problems have meant that it has never actually been repeated. One of the changes


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the architects are making to the design of the mountain is the addition of a secured vehicle lift
and a garage to the rear of the gate and mounting the gate itself on gimbals so the active face
of the gate can be turned to face the garage when needed.”
        Smiling, O’Neill smiled evilly, “just a pity we could fit a real tank through the gate.”
        “Unfortunately a standard Stargate isn’t large enough for existing Main Battle Tanks,
but I believe the Army…” Davis caught himself, remembering the international nature of
Gate operations, “the US Army is currently working on a few designs that might fit the bill.”
         “Good,”
        “We’re also getting full independent environmental control for the gateroom which
should allow for full non-earthlike atmospheres and even fully flooding the gateroom should
the need arise.”
        O’Neill blinked, then chuckled, “so long as it’s not me that gets to pass that idea past
appropriations…”
        “Actually, appropriations have already cleared it. We passed it off as part of the new
defences that are being installed in the gateroom itself. If any invasion force manages to get
past the permanent machine gun, canon and pulse laser emplacements then they will find
themselves either gassed or drowned.”
        “Sweet, but that’s not why you are here is it?”
        “Ah, no,” General Davis replied uncomfortably, “there have been a few questions
raised over the name you selected for the new warship class…”
        O’Neill glanced at Davis, his expression guileless and innocent, all things the
experienced black ops officer wasn’t.
        “Apparently it isn’t done to name a Battleship the ‘Subtlety’.”
        Snorting, O’Neill settled back into his seat, “have you seen the specs for the thing? I
know the designs are very much still work in progress and we probably won’t see work start
on one for at least another year, but come on, subtle that thing isn’t.”
        Davis blinked, “so why did you pick ‘subtlety’ as the name for the first ship and
therefore for the entire class?”
        “So I could label the second ship the ‘Irony’,”
        Davis started as if to ask something then blinked, raising his hand to his head as if to
ward of an oncoming headache, “I see your sense of humour has only gotten worse over the
years.”
        “Thank you,” came the victorious reply.


Seventeen

        “Ballsy of them,” Jones grimaced, glancing at the flickering tactical display, “pity it
didn’t take some of the heat off of us.”
        “Can they really take the station with those few ships?” Hayes asked quietly.
        “No,” he replied swiftly, “but I’m guessing they’re going to Fox 4 the blasted place,”
        “Jesus,” his tactical officer grimaced as the ship shook once more, “we’ve failed
haven’t we?”
        Jones hesitated, glancing up once at the ships status displays, then the tactical displays
then shook his head, sending Hayes a sorrowful glance just in time to see her console spark,
then short out, Hayes spasming for brief seconds before slumping to the ground, still and
faintly smoking.
        “Yes,” he replied softly, “but at least we’ll take the bastards with us my friend.”




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        Grimacing, favouring his right arm, he abandoned his charred command seat, walking
across the room to a backup sound powered phone, hidden behind an apparently unused
section of wall panel.
        “Secondary Command, this is the Captain, disable the safety interlocks on Long Tom
and commence firing with all available power,” slumping, he let the phone drop back into its
cradle, knowing full well that his order would be obeyed, and knowing that in about ten shots
the weapon would fail, consuming his command. So be it, at least its technologies and secrets
would not fall into the hands of Anubis.

        Anubis growled, the sound guttural and filled with vile hatred as before his eyes two
of his Ha’taks just vanished from the tactical display, killed by unexpectedly powerful fire
from the Tau’ri Battlecruiser.
        They had been damaged vessels certainly, but such power… The Tau’ri must know
they were doomed, they must have figured out his plans and instead of bowing to the
inevitable, instead of accepting their rightful place as his serfs, they had decided to destroy
themselves and worse, the weapon he sought rather then admit there lowly, hopeless position.
Infantile creatures, not that he should have expected much better of group that spawned such
defiant monsters as O’Neill and that thrice-damned Doctor Jackson.
        He would crush their world for this, he would have their wives and children found and
he would have them slaughtered like the dogs they were, he would…
        “Enemy vessels close aboard!”
        …let his Jaffa have their decadent pleasures with their soulless bodies before killing
them, he would… what was that?!

         “Fire,”
         From a distance of a mere 1000 kilometres, not even a dust speck against the size of
the star system, the damaged, battered but unbeaten destroyer Invincible announced its
presence on the battlefield, its twin gauss rifles unleashing hell over open gun sights. The
trinium based gauss bullets covered the distance between weapon and target in a literal
instant, their energy completely converted as they impacted on the Goa’uld shields, rocking
the massive enemy vessel even as the nippy destroyer heeled over, all energies diverted from
stealth to showing the enemy Capital ship a clean pair of heels.
         Anubis was mildly displeased.

         Jones glanced up displeased as he felt the rumble of the ion canon cease; he hadn’t
felt the weapon fail, and his remaining readings still showed sufficient power, so why had
they stopped firing?
         Grimacing, he reached for the sound powered phone once more, “Secondary
command, this is the Captain, why have we stopped firing?”
         “Goa’uld ships breaking off sir!”
         “What?”
         “I don’t understand it sir, one moment everyone was firing on us, then there was what
looked like Gauss impacts on the command ships shields, now he’s got everyone racing off
but sensors are too badly compromised for me to say more.”
         Jones didn’t need to guess, “stupid fools, I ordered them to repair their ships ready for
the long trip home, not try some more foolhardy stunts!”
         “Wait... now receiving IFF beacon... its Invincible and she ‘flying’ flags and pennants
code uniform.”
         Standing into danger, Jones mused as he gave orders to concentrate on repairs, now
why would Invincible be transmitting that, unless…


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        Underneath the hull of every Dauntless class warship was a sharp, almost rudder like
structure. This was always intended as a launcher for decoys capable of pretending, from a
distance, to be the another warship, or perhaps the ship they were launched from, allowing
the destroyer to go more easily to ground or evade.
        Working versions of the decoys had appeared swiftly, but effective and reliable still
had yet to figure in the designs, as such the Captains of the Dauntless class, with tacit
acceptance from a command structure that was increasingly annoyed with the failures of the
decoy design team, had found increasingly inventive uses for the structure, from Colonial
Nuke launcher to minelayer.
        Of course, it was difficult to set the pod up as a minelayer at very short notice, but the
front-lines of a war against an enemy that was numerically superior to an uber degree was no
place for a stodgy by-the-book Captain. An inventive and devious Captain on the other hand
could go far…
        Anubis growled in annoyance as his ship rocked once more, his shields flickering as a
third nuke detonated, not in contact with his shields but distant, the energies focused into
creating a wave of electromagnetic energies.
        Wouldn’t take his shields down, even the pathetic shields of the weak fools, the
defunct system lord could withstand nuclear devices after all, but each successive pulse
degraded his sensors just a little bit more, eroded his communications just that extra notch...
and to top it all off, the Tau’ri vessel wasn’t without EW transmitters of its own which made
locking onto it with his guns just that little more difficult. If only the blasted thing would
maintain a stable course for just ten seconds!
        But of course they wouldn’t.
        He growled as the ship shock once more, then blinked in shock as before his eyes, the
power across his command ship went completely out.
        Furious, he stepped forward off his throne to demand an explanation just as the final
nuclear mine detected his ships unshielded status and fired its thrusters, sending the relatively
small device spiralling fatally towards his command ship.

        Delenn darted forwards from her place in shock, her expression amazed then vicious
as she watched the Goa’uld lines suddenly break and fall into disarray, the so-called Shadow
warships seeming to lose co-ordination first before the effect spiralled, the very few Jaffa
crewed ships losing co-ordination themselves as they desperately tried to rally their
comrades. Then, abruptly, the entire line of vessels broke, Drakh, Goa’uld, Shadow and
Cylon vessels moving as one towards a point near the battered and disabled Tau’ri vessels.
       “Kill them!” she barked, “kill them now, whilst they are vulnerable!”
       None of the allied commanders needed to be told even once and abruptly, the battle
turned against Anubis’s forces.


Eighteen

                Model Six, Unit 049 could not believe the events that were occurring around
her, a Basestar, a Cylon basestar was being boarded. It had been conceived of naturally, there
were many plans in place to deal with marauding bands of humans intent on sabotage or
destruction, but they all assumed a relatively small band managing to sneak aboard ship,
intent most likely on a particular target.
        This was no stealthy assault, this was no straight sabotage mission, this was a blunt,
bloody ‘we want your ship’ boarding action by the joint forces of the Tau’ri and the Colonial


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Remnant. This was an assault in force… and the massive planning computers that had
successfully drawn up contingencies for every single other eventually the Cylons had faced,
including civil unrest within the Cylons own ranks and the splintering of the Divine
Civilisation of the Cylons… had failed to even conceive of such an event.
         And know her she was, caught aboard a ship that was about to be boarded with the
sudden horrific realisation that, thanks to the high levels of automation aboard ship, they were
now outnumbered at least two to one by the determined army bent on seizing her ship.
         She gripped her jury-rigged pike with a strength breed of fear, her hands slowly
imprinting their shapes onto the metal.
         Worse yet, not only would every single one of the attackers be armed more then
sufficiently to take down humanoid models such as herself but with the high levels of
jamming and the vastly insufficient numbers of resurrection ships… she could die here.
         For real.
         Certainly, she didn’t honestly think that the ship could be held and whilst she knew
some of her fellow Cylons were desperately trying to rig up auxiliary self-destruct devices…
well, she like all cylons knew that the only contingency in place for a very at high risk of
being captured was self-destruct. The ships own computer should have detonated the ships
nuclear armaments, or overloading the Naquadah primary power core, the Tylium
secondary’s, the…
          A thousand and one ways a ship-mind had of destroying itself and it had done none
of these, instead it had continued to try futilely to resist the enemy. That had to mean the ship,
for whatever reason was afraid to die, but ship-minds couldn’t die. Indeed, veteran Ship-
minds such as the controlling intelligence governing the basestar she was aboard now were
quite literally an overriding priority as far as resurrection was concerned, more so then any
other Cylon, they couldn’t die.
         As such, the ship-mind had no right being fearful of its duty, it should have authorised
a self-destruct, yet if the communications of the local network were anything to go by, the
ship-mind was actively resisting attempts to destroy the ship.          Why? The ship was just a
shell, it could have another…
         Six froze, unless of course it couldn’t.
         Unless of course, it had lost the Resurrection carrier-wave… if that was true, then
they could all die, and all their souls would be lost to the abyss.
         Terrified, she sent a request for reassurance along with her conclusions to the 4 unit
that acted as the ships Spiritual Advisor, not realising in her fear that she had sent the
transmission openly, not encrypted as circumstances would have dictated to a more rational
mind.
         Within a tenth of a microsecond every model and unit aboard the ship knew of her
fears, and like a snake to the breast, they settled over the ship like a cloud.

        Weir watched, her eyes dark, saddened as transport after transport dropped down from
the skies, carrying thousands of wounded, the dead and the dying. The transports had been
dropping, swiftly depositing their loads for the last seven hours and they had yet to stop.
        Oh, she had known that people would die, that was always so true in war, but it hadn’t
hit her exactly what those figures meant. A thousand dead? Just a number, for the human
mind can not grasp such enormities…
        But the constant stream of transports? That was something the mind could see, could
witness, and could despair at, the sheer volume of movement telling of the desperate race to
save as many as possible, and telling also of how many were gone.
        But for all the dead, all the dying, and the just plain missing, she knew the operation
was a success.


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         Anubis’s forces hadn’t just been defeated, they had been massacred, a battle that was
going so evenly, so predictably falling into sheer attrition had abruptly turned into a rout…
and no-one yet truly knew why.
         Yes, Anubis had lost his Command ship but the Tau’ri had been witness to such
before as the forces of Maktenos destroyed his old Command ship in the build-up to the
assault on Edonia Nebula and his lines hadn’t broken then. Today however, they had, why?
         It was a question that would no doubt be filling the minds of many, strategists and
analysts alike in the coming months, one whose answer could possibly determine the future
course of the war. Hopefully, the answer would come in time, for now with Anubis having
taken ferocious losses, the Allies had declared a push. For the first time, the forces of the
League, the Narn and the Minbari would be liberating seized worlds, reclaiming their
populations and resources and hopefully, swiftly reintegrating them not just into their
civilizations, but into their war efforts.
         They would get many recruits as they spearheaded forward, many people would no
doubt have anything left at home for them, even if they had a home left at all.
         God, how she hated this, she was a diplomat, it was her job, her duty to resolve
disputes, to try and reach an amicable agreement before outright fighting broke out and yet
here she was doing all she could to hold together a fragile Alliance, trying as much as she
could to support a war.
         She had always thought that war, that fighting had meant that the diplomats had failed
in their duty, it had taken a being as Alien as Anubis for her to truly realise that not everyone
could be reasoned with and, not for the first time, she mourned her loss of innocence, the loss
of her high ideals.


Nineteen

         “We’re out of the fight,” Jones shook his head, quietly and tiredly dismayed, “we’ll
need repairs just to return to home plate,”
         “True enough,” Sub-Lieutenant Higgs replied, gazing at his Captain somewhat distant
eyes, a slight slurring in his voice explained away by the heavy bandage wrapped around his
forehead, “maybe the Chief could have rigged up something…”
         Captain Jones glanced up as Higgs paused, a slight catch in his voice, “but at least
most of the job is simple parts work. As soon as we get home, well, it should be a relatively
quick repair job. Can’t say the same for the other ships though, Searcher has lost at least a
quarter of her crew and Persephone will have to be towed home.”
         “I’ve already arranged for a tow from our allied friends,” he replied, “it’ll slow us
down but the escort will be helpful and its not as if any of us are in any real condition to
race.”
         “That’s certainly true Sir, but I wouldn’t even think about heading home till I’ve had
at least a week to work as much of the kinks out as I can,”
         Jones nodded, thanking the all too swiftly promoted Chief of Engineering as he
gestured him out of the room. Higgs nodded, pausing by the door as he left the room.
         “All this death, all this destruction… was it worth it sir?”
         Captain Jones found himself without a reply.

         “The Royal Star Service has confirmed the destruction of several internet backbone
satellites by its fighters, stating ‘reasons of national security’ as an excuse for the
unacceptable destruction of private assets and property by the renegade British agency.”



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        “Cheering in Washington DC today as the cities first mark II defensive satellite is
placed in orbit. The satellite, the first of a network paid for by public donations, was
displayed under heavy guard for three days inside the National Air and Space Museum
before being lifted directly into orbit by an ‘Airhead’ class orbital lifter.
        Meanwhile, controversy reins over the placement of the prototype type III ‘Lancelot’
defensive satellite, currently under construction at an undisclosed location. Military sources
in both Stargate Command and the Royal Star Service state that the most likely location for
the satellite will be in orbit over the Stargate Command Facilities currently being cleared
ready for reconstruction at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado Springs, however
many politicians are arguing for placements more likely to protect their constituents but quite
possibly not in the best interests of Earth’s continued safety.
        It is hoped by this news agency, for all our sakes, that saner heads prevail.”

        “The Senate passed a bill today authorising funding for the construction of a
dedicated shipyard in Earth orbit. This facility, intended to increase the ability of our space
forces to build and repair ships has yet to be ratified by the British Government, currently
sited somewhere in Edinburgh. Official sources say the station, tentatively titled ‘Gaia
Station’, will be able to handle at least 14 ships at any one time.”

        “I’m standing outside a warehouse in Surrey that just five hours ago was the site of a
vicious firefight between government forces, primarily army but with RSS Security support
and a number of, what I can only describe as robotic warriors suspected to be Cylon forces.
This comes a mere two days after a police station in West Yorkshire was raided and
destroyed by individuals wearing Jaffa armour with massive causalities amongst police and
prisoner alike.
        So far, no official statement has been released regarding either of these incidents.”

         “The internet largely collapsed today as the central IP servers, controlled almost
entirely by the US, were taken offline for almost seven hours after the discovery of what
official sources describe as an insidious and clever hi-jack. The servers are online at this
moment but the disruption has caused massive problems throughout the internet which we
are told, may take days to fully clear.”

        “A class action suit brought against the US Government was thrown out of court
today. The suit, brought against the government by an alliance of citizens from all bar three
of the states, stated that the government had acted in direct contradiction of its responsibility
to the general populace.
        The response from the government was simple, a potential source of both threats and
allies had been found and that, for better or for worse, they had an obligation to investigate.
        The judge reminded the court in his closing statement that hindsight was always 20-
20. The so called ‘Freedom Alliance’ stated that they were going to file charges against the
judge for the ‘illegal’ ruling… just as soon as they could figure out what those charges
should be.”

        “Judge Olymeyer was murdered in his bed last night, just five hours after throwing a
suit against the US Government out of court. The ‘Freedom Alliance’ has denied any
involvement.”

      “Armed police clashed with rioters at Biggin Hill, headquarters for the 1st Motor
Torpedo boat Squadron, as an unidentified craft bearing what we believe to be Colonial


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Markings landed, marking the latest stage of the ongoing colonisation of Alpha Prime. This
wave will mainly include the pre-selected, that is, those individuals whom the RSS and SGC
commands had already accessed and hoped would apply for the move.”

        Defeat.
        The word settled over her mind, a bitter pill, poisoning and twisting its way through
her gut, they had been defeated. The Cylons, the race truly destined to control and bring order
to the human infested chaos of the universe had been defeated by the very pestilence they
were meant to destroy.
        It truly proved how much of a threat these humans were and how determined they
were to resist the rightful rulers of the galaxy… not that any of this helped her at the moment,
not with a gun pointed right between her eyes and a probably blocked connection to the
resurrection ship.
        Could they have figured out how to commit that heresy?
        The six admitted to herself that she didn’t know, and truly, she didn’t want to find out.
In the darkest, quietest corner of her mind, she also admitted to herself she was truly afraid.

         “Signal from the basestar commander, it’s Gullotine.”
         Adama glanced up, a faint grin lighting up the corners of his eyes, “the prize is ours
people, the basestars central computer has been isolated,” the grin disappeared as cheers
filled the room, “but don’t let that get to your heads, we’re not safe yet. We’ve got near 300
hundred people on that basestar whose lives are in jeopardy if the Cylons pay us a return
visit. The prize needs to be repaired, made ready to move and it must be protected all the way
back to friendly skies, we could still lose this one.”
         Pleased at their more subdued and serious attitudes, Adama rubbed the bridge of his
nose as he glanced back at the tactical displays dropping down from the ceiling.


Twenty

        Grimacing as he adjusted the always uncomfortable dress uniform, O’Neill glanced
once swiftly around his office, confirming the absence of any papers of memory sticks on his
desk before he stepped swiftly out. Casually, instinctively he dropped a few ‘telltale’ hairs
between the door and frame as he locked the door, before swiftly heading through the
corridors and walkways to Ravenbright Slipway 1, a shit-eating grin barely hidden under a
mild mask of professional pleasure.
        Today, he was happy to be at work, not a common event since the office became his
battlefield. Then again, given the state his knee was in, perhaps the office was the best place
for him; he knew the Doctors would have placed some new ironmongery in his leg whether
he liked it or not if the brown and murky stuff hadn’t been spread about so liberally in the last
year.
        Still, after today he knew, whether he liked it or not, he would be sent to the beach,
even if the bucket and shovel they were going to give him were only loaners. Damnit, he
hated the hospital, but then again, the quacks around here were no patch on old Doc Frasier
so maybe that was why.
        If only the feds could visit again, he had little doubt that they could make short work
of his knee…
        “General on the deck!”
        Grimacing at the formality, he stepped past the ramrod straight ensign through the
airlock that marked the boundary between the construction slip and the station at large.


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        Ignoring the assembled dignitaries and associated underlings, O’Neill stepped straight
across to the massive triple-glazed observation windows, casting his first glance of the
Atlantis, minus the gantries and work-platforms that had hidden her form for so long. His
breath caught, his soldiers instinct telling him at once that what he saw was no grand old lady
like the Galactica, but a caged beast waiting, no, needing to be given freedom and purpose.
        Soon, he promised the behemoth, soon.
        It was only in his mind he heard an answering purr from the massive warcraft, only in
his mind…

         “We can’t keep building ships at Edonia indefinitely,” Sarah Williams commented,
her face tracking against the faces that would once have been present in reality but with all
the chaos and all that needed to be done, were more often then not only present as images
nowadays.
         “But what did we build slips into Edonia for it not to build warships?”
Flottillenadmiral Hirsh angrily, “it is not as if we have enough slips that we can allow any to
go spare.”
         “When Gaia comes online, we may have to,” Jones pointed out, “everything has to be
shipped out to the nebula, everything. There are no local mines or factories providing even
the smallest part of the resources needed.”
         “My department has done the maths on this,” Colonel Walters shook his head, “the
cost of moving all the parts to Edonia to construct just 3 Dauntless class vessels, as the
Russians are now doing, is equivalent to the construction cost of a Prometheus constructed at
Thundersdawn.”
         “Mein Gott, is that true?”
         “Unfortunately so,” Sarah shrugged, “whilst long term plans did include heavy
construction work at the base that assumed associated facilities in the local systems, until
then, the slips were only supposed to be there to support operations in that area of space; not
be running full stretch constructing new vessels.”
         “Then we have an obvious target for saving money,” Walters noted.
         “Not until Gaia is online,” Sarah put forward wryly, “expensive though it might be,
I’m afraid the operational need to use those slips is very real at this time.”
         Grimacing, Hirsh shared a look with his American counterpart, “We are supposed to
be saving money here, do not forget that Commander.”
         Sarah snorted, “And there is a reason why an operations officer is actually involved in
this process. Until Gaia is online we will continue to support construction efforts at Edonia,
that I am afraid is non-negotiable.”
          “And when the station is online…?” Hirsh probed.
         “Cost saving equivalent to a Prometheus? Fuck yeah.”
         Sending a disapproving glance at the younger officer, Hirsh made a note of the
decision even as Walters glanced away from his camera, the corners of his mouth twitching.
         “Next item on the agenda,” Hirsh grimaced, “the repair budget.”
         Walters snorted, “Good luck getting that down, I’m afraid open warfare isn’t very
friendly to that particular budget.”
         Hirsh nodded, acknowledging the point, “nevertheless our governments will not
continue to pour extra money into the budget all the time, we’ve all seen tax rises since
disclosure and those are only set to continue, if there is anything that can be done anywhere
to safely save money, we must do so.”
         “Costs are going down as the vertical integration increases,” Walters noted, his hands
dancing at a keyboard just below the reach of his cameras eye, “a lot of basic components can
know be made either on Ravenbright or on the local surface using materials mined locally.


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The volumes there are increasing in fits and starts as more facilities go online but the more
advanced components can still only be built on Earth’s surface, they then have to be
transhipped to orbit.”
         “The fabled space elevator would be a real assist there, but the problem still is and
had always been, what kind of material do you use for a rope that stretches all the way from
orbit to the surface? And just what the hell do you do if the ‘rope’ goes wild?”
         Hirsh and Walters shared shudders at the image Commander Williams’s words
produced but she wasn’t finished, “we lost a lot of Paladins recently which has pushed costs
up and the Airheads are showing the strain, several have been failed recently and been listed
for disposal and we still have no real heavy surface to orbit lifting capability.”
         “Lots of small loads…” Hirsh shook his head, “I’m afraid that in order to save long
term costs I may have to recommend that a true heavy lift capable craft be bumped up the
schedule.”
         “That’ll cost.”
         “What doesn’t?” Walters pointed out, “but I’ll pass it along to the analysts, see if we
can write up a decent case.”
         “Operations would appreciate the personnel that might be saved by using large craft
instead of masses of small craft,” Sarah pointed out.
         “So noted,” Hirsh glanced across, “but I still think maybe there is more we can do
here.”
         “Not much,” Sarah frowned, “a lot of savings will come with the increase in vertical
integration but at the moment infrastructure on Alpha Prime is proving to be the prime
limiting factor. That’s primarily a case of waiting on personnel, which given the colonisation
efforts is certainly in hand, and time. As it is, the Planetary Governor has already informed
command that he lives in mortal fear of a real fire in the colonised zones, let alone a true civil
emergency.”
         “I heard that several captured hulls are to be refitted on the surface of Alpha Prime, is
this true?” Hirsh asked, his hands idly stroking his beard.
         “Yes, including a little something the Gatecrasher teams are decontaminating at the
moment,” Sarah confirmed, making the two accountants eyebrows rise.
         “Can we not do more construction and repair on surface then?”
         Sarah shook her head, “there are major safety issues inherent with damaged warships
trying to land on a planets surface. All it would take is for power to fail… in space so long as
you have atmosphere inside the ship you can deal with a power failure or engine problem, but
during re-entry?”
         “And construction?” Walters asked hesitantly.
         “Not quite as tricky, there are inherent questions of course with launching untried
craft into orbit from the surface but that’s something that the SGC and the RSS both do on a
fairly regular basis for small craft and has been done for larger hulls,” Sarah shrugged, “it is
feasible to increase surface construction but you’re talking a massive initial investment again.
Alpha Prime would be the best site given security, environment and space considerations but
infrastructure is the issue again.”
         Exasperated, Hirsh turned to Sarah, “then can you think of anyway we can save some
real money now?”
         “Fewer accountants?” she responded with a grin.

         “I name this ship Atlantis, may God keep watch over her and all who sail in her,”
Grinning O’Neill stepped forward to the very edge of the ledge, the red carpet barely hiding
the fittings where normally a rail would stand.



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        Beside him, Roslin spoke, a pleased yet saddened look on her face as she gazed across
at the mighty, once Colonial hull, “Lords, we bring before you the Atlantis. Hephaestus, we
ask you find our creation worthy and bless her construction, Artemis, we ask of you your
shield and your sure and straight hunters eye, Ares, we ask you guide this craft in your art of
war.”
        With a single nod, solider to politician, their two bottles were launched into the abyss,
the light glinting as inertia guided them to the awaiting behemoths hull.


Twenty-One

         The Doyle grimaced as he mentally shifted through the data and communications of a
near thousand ships, mostly fighters or support craft. He hated this job, hated the constant,
mind numbingly boring analysis, the IQ killing search for patterns, for unexplained events,
for anything that might indicate a potential problem or a potential advantage.
         He considered himself lucky that at least command had collectively agreed to rotate
units in and out of this duty; leastways he might have been here forever. If that happened, he
knew the unrelenting boredom would eventually send him to the box as a psychological
failure.
         Let’s see, twenty raiders abruptly off the air in sector 20-12 on the Secessionist /
Unforgiven border and the nearest resurrection facility, a hastily built station in this instance,
reporting receiving 20 download streams near enough simultaneously.
No need to guess what happened there, though with twenty units killed in near enough one
moment…
         Idly, he issued an order for a more through ‘debriefing’ of the fighter minds. It took a
lot after all to kill even those second rate minds without them getting a warning off.
         The resurrection station was also reporting other download streams, most likely from
the skirmish further up the border where two Unforgiven basestars where engaging a supply
convoy. They were getting far too good at disrupting supplies, almost making it a speciality
of theirs, but the Doyle knew plans where in hand already, his predecessor having gotten
himself an early out by predicting where the next five Unforgiven raids would be. This one
was predicted and was merely confirmation; the next would not be a supply convoy, as much
as it might appear to be.
         Basestar CX-8891-C he was beginning to be worried about, the ship had been in
combat and they were supposed to send a combat report immediately combat was over,
indeed, the basestar had started to send such a signal but it had been abruptly terminated. He
would be more worried if the nearest resurrection facility had reported unexpected downloads
but as yet that ship was quiet; there were no losses in its catchment area. That at least was
encouraging, besides he knew the sun the basestar was orbiting was not the most stable, it
flared often and each time communications were disrupted. It was most likely what had
caused a problem on this occasion too; he would give it a few more hours before he sent a
patrol to investigate.

        “I think we did it,” Boomer 201 commented with a grin, gazing with a grin at the
displays which showed five boxed fighter minds.
        “It was not the complete success we had hoped for,” an eleven responded calmly, “we
only managed to intercept five of the minds after all and we still do not know if the five that
got through and the five we inserted survived the process.”
        “True,” Boomer nodded at the displays, “but at the very least we have proven that we
can capture minds in transmission and box them. Eventually they will realize they are losing


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minds, perhaps they will even realize why, but in the meantime, they will be creating more
and more green minds whilst their more experienced ones disappear.”
       “We should have these minds interrogated,”
       Boomer nodded, “we should but these boxes are too heavily modified to allow that.”
       “Pity,” the eleven noted, casually reaching across and switching the power off to the
captured intelligences.

         “We need to decide what is to be done about the Lancers.”
         “True,” Commodore Peters responded swiftly, “but I don’t think the answer is to
scrap them as oversight is calling for. That would take over a hundred fighters out of the fight
and we can’t really afford that.”
         “Nor can we afford the ongoing maintenance bill,” Squadron Leader Reynolds
commented, “the batch one design is in major need of overhaul, the batch 2 design was a
failure, the prototype managing to shred itself spectacularly.”
         “True enough,” Thompson noted, “but really, it is now a matter of role. Do these craft
have a role to furfill? Do we still have a purpose for them?”
         “Initially they were considered dog-fighters because they could out-manoeuvre the F-
302’s but frankly, the Vipers have the edge there now, just. Have greater missile carrying
capacity then the current generation of F-302’s but the prototype for the next generation is in
the air and it will equalize that. Neither will have as many missiles as the Strikers but that’s
okay because the Strikers are Fighter / Attack, not plain fighter.” Peters frowned, “frankly,
I’m not sure where the class does fit in now.”
         “I’ve seen the projections for the batch 3 design,” Reynolds grinned, “same basic
airframe shape but moving to a geodesic construction pattern and a complete internal rewire.
If they get the go ahead to prototype it, it’ll be a tough little bugger thanks to the geodesic
construction and an expensive one for the same reason.”
         “Geodesic… didn’t the Wellingtons use that in the Second World War?” Thompson
frowned.
         “Yes, and they frequently flew home with damage that would have put other designs
in the ground. It will mean existing craft can’t be refitted but frankly, the two big problems
have always been wiring and structural strength and the 3 seems to have that in hand. Losing
the existing craft is going to happen anyway.”
         Peters grimaced, “tough they might be, but expensive is going to be a problem as
would the lack of a specific role or purpose.”
         Reynolds shrugged, glancing across the room where a picture of the wet-navy carrier
Illustrious caught his eyes, a Harrier caught in the process of taking off.
         “Ground support,” he murmured.
         “Pardon?” Peters asked, blinking and Reynolds glanced up to see that he had the full
and undivided attention of his superiors.
         He frowned, leaning backwards in his seat, “the one role we really don’t have covered
yet or any plans for that I am aware off, ground support. We send SG-1 teams through the
gate to known or suspected worlds all the time and they have to face off against deathgliders
and worse and they manage. When we can, we do arrange a fighter sweep which normally
makes mincemeat of any gliders making the ground fight evenish… but we need to uneven it.
The Goa’uld, the Cylons, the Aschen, none have a dedicated ground support craft. Sure, they
do have craft which can act in the role but think about it… the Lancer is manoeuvrable, it can
dance between hills and valleys, hugging the ground until it reaches its target. It is fully
atmospheric capable, landing and takeoff and has no problems with re-entry. The new
construction used with the batch 3 design will make it an even tougher craft, more capable of
taking hits. The pulse weapons are devastating weapons in themselves, but the Lancer


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already has a warload rating. We would just need to expand the range of weapons the design
can handle, rocket pods, cluster bombs…”
         “R&D already has a rocket pod design which should be able to survive re-entry; it’s
not tested or prototyped as yet…” Peters mused.
         “Bombs and similar one use items would be an issue there. Making them re-entry
capable would increase the cost prohibitively,” Thompson noted, his tone making it clear he
was inviting responses not dismissing the notion.
         “Overwing mounts,” Peters noted shrugging, “it was done on the old Jaguar ground
attack craft, not to mention the Lightning.”
         “The wings would help shield from re-entry effects but whether that would be enough
is something for the techs to tell us. Still, it would lead to the interesting view of an craft
being upside down in order to bomb unless lobbing of course.” Thompson nodded, “the
Strikers may be classed as fighter-attack but attack isn’t that appropriate when you think
about it because attack designates an anti-ground ability. Maritime strike would be more
appropriate there.”
         “No need to delete or downgrade the Lancers fighter role either,” Reynolds grinned,
“and every reason not too.”
         “Well,” Thompson noted, “it’s certainly a thought to put before oversight.”
         “Ironically enough,” Peters noted, “the PDF variations of the Lancers will have a far
easier time adapting to ground support role. No weight of the hyperdrive, a pre-existing
internal bay…”
         The Admiral smiled, “almost a logical extension of their planetary defence role.”
         “That might be the way to sell it in fact,” Reynolds noted.
         “Perhaps,” Thompson shrugged, “but moving on, I have a promotion to announce to
Rear-Admiral Peters.”
         Peters gaped, looking uncommonly like she had just been hit with a 2 by 4 before
slowly smiling.


Twenty-Two

        “Bandit!”
        Adama snapped to awareness at the shouted word, his eyes flicking instinctively to
the tactical display, tracing a lobe red dot as it proceeded slowly across the screen then
suddenly, sharply veered off. Behind it, a finger of blue dots raced, frantically trying to
intercept the sole cylon warcraft.
        “15 seconds until Cylon fighter can jump,”
        The Admiral grimaced, the window of interception, the time it took for the cylon
fighters engines to recycle enough for the fighter to make a short range jump out of harms
way was far too small, if the fighter mind was veteran that was what it would do, make a
small jump to give it time to properly calculate a long jump. If they were lucky, it was an
inexperienced mind and right now it was trying to calculate a long range jump… and waiting
for a complete drive recycle.
        If…
        But as the Earther’s said, ‘if wishes were horses then beggars would ride,” and frankly
everything had been going far too well on this capture operation. It was past time something
went wrong.
        “Jump!” came the strangled shout, “5 seconds left on timer!”
        Frak, something had just gone wrong.



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       “Signal the prize, they had better hurry it up,” Adama nodded thankfully as a mug of
coffee was passed across to him, “we can now expect company in force.”

        “The Raider mind must be corrupt,” the six commented acidly.
        “Agreed,” a model 9, ‘Doyle’, responded, “It is certainly highly unlikely that the
Tau’ri have managed to seize one of our basestars.”
        “And yet,” a model 2, one of the rare few who had not chosen to join the Unforgiven
noted, “the Raider just passed a complete systems diagnostics with no flags and is one of our
most experienced minds, credited with two battlestar kills over Caprica.”
        The others paused; it was a point worthy of consideration.
        Doubtfully, a 9 responded slowly, “the Raiders report is highly unlikely…”
        “Nevertheless,” a Six grimaced, “we cannot risk even the possibility of it being true,”
        “Agreed,” on that at least there was consensus.
        “It is a bold move I’ll admit,” the two commented, then glanced up, realisation filling
her eyes, “bold, aggressive and unexpected.”
        One by one the other models twigged, but it was a 9 who responded, “I think we had
best start hit and run raids, disrupt their efforts. They have to be planning on moving their
prize out,”
        “Use the time to gather as many ships as possible nearby for a coordinated assault,”
six nodded, “we must be prepared to destroy the ship ourselves if needs be, we cannot allow
family to fall into the humans hands.”
        On that too, there was consensus, but each had a disquieting thought filling their
mind, the ship mind should have self-destructed when it realized it was going to be captured,
why hadn’t it?

        “A statement from the Royal Star Service has today confirmed that the Atlantis, the
newest warship to join the spaceforce, has successfully completed tests of all its weapons
systems with no major problems. It is confirmed that a few problems did come up during the
tests but these are described as relatively minor and should the need arise; the ship would be
able to operate now in a purely defensive capacity.
        It will be at least two more months before the ship is declared operational.”

        “Another wave of defensive emplacements is launched amidst arguments of where
control over these satellites should lie. The old space limitation treaties are certainly long
gone as individual governments fight to control those assets they or their citizenry directly
paid for and anything that might appear in their skies. In the midst of this, the Royal Star
Service and Stargate Command nations refuse to relinquish any control arguing, perhaps
correctly; that centralized control will mean a more powerful coordinated response should
the satellites ever be required again.
        Just to pour oil on this fire, an increasingly nervous segment of the population is
asking for more and more reassurances that these weapons platforms can not be diverted to
attack ground targets.
        The agencies have repeatedly confirmed that they can’t, but there is a portion of the
scientific community that is saying they do not understand that, they see no reason these can’t
be turned against ground targets, making blackmail from space a real possibility.
        Indeed, this is becoming one of the favoured arguments of the local control brigade, a
group increasingly being treated with exasperation by the space agencies, but, thanks
perhaps to the secrecy surrounding the design and science behind these gun placements,
being increasingly listened to by a general public eager for some form of answer.”



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        “A small warship of the Motor Torpedo Boat type arrived back at Manston today
having been dragged back from Ravenbright where the craft, part of the Sol System Defence
Squadron, had been sent for repairs, bringing the squadron back to full strength.
        Nice to know, you say, not necessarily news though. Perhaps, but for this first time
this craft did not carry the markings of the Royal Space Service, of Stargate Command or
indeed, even of both services. No, this craft returned bearing the emblem of the Tau’ri Star
Service, becoming the first Earth craft to carry this marking. A sign perhaps of the changes to
come, changes which so far have all been as plans and preparations on paper and not actual
action.”


Twenty-Three

        “Earth’s defences remain at a high state of alert today after the discovery of a
stealthed monitoring platform just outside the Sol System. The station, believed to be of
Goa’uld construction, was discovered during a random check on the outlying areas of the
system being carried out by the destroyer General Hammond.”

        “A source within Stargate Command has suggested current plans may result in the
prototype type 3 defensive satellite may be placed so as to protect the construction of the
Gaia shipyard, whose construction in Earths own orbit has been confirmed but not yet
started. This goes directly against earlier statements which suggested the platform may be
placed above the Stargate Command facilities currently being rebuilt in Colorado or over
one of the scattered Royal Space Service facilities in the United Kingdom.”

        “A motion has entered congress today to convert the Kennedy Space Centre into a
transhipment and construction facility for the proposed Tau’ri Star Service. The facility,
whose future like so many NASA bases has been uncertain since Disclosure, would end up
being the largest construction base for support craft such as the Airhead orbital lifters and
Paladin transports as well as retaining its role as a starport, taking cargoes in by rail, road
and air ready for lifting to be orbit or vice-versa. The facility is already well equipped for this
role having the bulk of the required infrastructure already in place.”

       “Unconfirmed reports are reaching us that an Asgard Beliskner class ship has
arrived in orbit and is preparing for cleanup operations around the Exeter Exclusion zone,
now thoroughly and some say irretrievably contaminated with radiation.”

        “If you look up to the skies tonight you may see a new star glinting in the heavens,
that glinting dot seen most clearly in South England and parts of France is no star, it’s the
Battlestar Atlantis, currently scheduled to be on proving trials between Mars and the asteroid
belt. No-one has yet confirmed the reason why this craft has taken up orbit over Earth but its
location and the rumours of Asgard vessels modified for radiation cleanup duties cannot be a
coincidence.”

         “The 1st Battlegroup, assigned to support allied races is on its way home today.
Sources confirm that the group dialled in from a Stargate close to the allied territories,
apparently to transmit reports and to seek parts and equipment. This has not been confirmed,
but it has been suggested that a significant number of body bags were sent through the gate
to the temporary Stargate Command Facilities. What is certain is that the group will have to



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travel for several months to reach Earth with frequent stops to restock on food, as well as
recyclables such as water and oxygen.”

         Murielle gazed unblinkingly through the dirtied glass of her binoculars, one eye on
the distant farm buildings, the other flickering around the surrounding countryside, checking
as ever for unwanted surprises. Movement, she stiffened slightly, and then relaxed as two
female figures walked out of the old, possibly medieval barn across to the only slightly newer
farmhouse. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought they were twins, but Murielle
knew enough to recognise model sixes when she saw them.
         Normally she would have been in by now, at the head of a detachment of SAS, Royal
Marine Commandoes or whoever else was available. Not this time however, this farmhouse
was in an area that had 100% radar coverage, both civilian and military and of mixed types.
There was no way anyone should be able to land in this particular corner of the English
countryside unnoticed and yet these guys had. She could understand the human forms
managing to land elsewhere and assemble here, but there was a large detachment of warriors
badly concealed around the buildings too and who would miss or mistake those?
         Not to mention, the glimpses she had caught of the inside of the barn they seemed to
say ‘heavy raider’. That was certainly a problem, she wouldn’t want to guess how many of
those annoyingly pocket sized nukes the Colonials and Cylons used could be landed on one
of those. But that was a minor consideration in why they weren’t going in, there were enough
dead already that if those went up here and now in response to a raid, it wouldn’t make much
of a difference to the stats, even with the local presence of several large towns. No, nasty as it
might sound the bigger issue was how they were landing and supporting this small base
without being noticed, after all, if they would manage it here in such a well covered area, how
much could they get away with in a less well monitored zone?
         It helped of course that most planes had been grounded long since and that most
flights at the moment were official or scheduled well in advance, sure it was a bastard for
those who could afford a small plane such as a Cessna but it made tracing flights at lot easier.
         Movement again from within the farmyard, several figures stepping out of cover,
looking around as if waiting, and now a tingling from her wrist reciever. She glanced down,
her eyebrows rising just slightly at the small led readout.
         Somebody inside the farm was transmitting were they? And a possible homing signal
at that, very interesting, it may just be that they were about to have visitors. After two weeks
of watching and no dice, it was damn well past time.
         She glanced up, her eyes darting around, controlling, swiftly quartering every corner
of the sky, ground and farmyard with practised efficiency. Still, she misses the exact moment
exact moment the heavy raider appears, with a grimace Murielle realises exactly what has
happened and knowing it may cause her death, but also knowing the information is too
important to risk being lost if she was caught in her escape, she slowly reaches down, pulling
a small radio with attached keyboard and swiftly begins to type.

        “This is a problem,” Admiral Thompson states flatly.
        “This is a fucking nightmare,” O’Neill growls, “if there Raiders can just jump into
atmosphere then they can be in and out literally in a minute.”
        Carter shrugged, the light glinting of the single star on her shoulder tabs, “assuming
they have precalulated outbound co-ordinates, yes. Even if they don’t, they would be able to
calculate an outbound jump before we had any chance to intercept…”
        “If they decide to start attacking instead of just dropping of raiding parties and Intel
groups…” O’Neill growled.



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        “The question is why haven’t they yet?” Thompson noted his expression pensive,
“they certainly seem more determined to weaken then to actually destroy.”
        “Weaken implies an intention to take…” Carter mused, “it’s certainly not a guarantee
but…”
        “Do we know of any way to jam their jump drives?” Thompson noted.
        “No,” Carter shrugged, “apparently the Colonials did try to find a way during the first
cylon war but never had any real success.”
        “I think it just became a priority,” the Commander of Ravenbright station shrugged,
“either we jam ‘em so they can’t just jump into range of Earth or we come up with some form
of interdict so we can stop them where we want them. Either way…”
        “I think our only saving grace so far is that the human forms are not militarily trained
for the most part, they are certainly learning tactics as they go along but it’s easy to miss
things like that. If they start to truly think about what they can do with those jump drives,”
The Admiral slumped down in his seat, “then the war will very swiftly be over for us. Carter,
I know Sciences can do without another priority but O’Neill is right, we need an interdict or
jamming capability and I think we needed it several years ago.”


Twenty-four

        Galactica rocked and Admiral Adama winced mildly at the bashing his valiant old
Lady was getting, his eyes never leaving the tactical displays dropped down from the roof of
the CIC.
        He wasn’t worried; he knew the Old Lady could take her knocks, often far better then
the newer designs. Besides, the ships shields were still up, that wasn’t even an armour hit.
        What he was worried about were the Paladins.
        The small, manoeuvrable, overloaded, under-gunned and under-armoured support
craft that had been swarming the battlefield when the Cylon basestar jumped in and were now
frantically trying and failing to avoid the swarms of fighters that the enemy capital ship had
eventually thrown out… after losing one of its ‘arms’ to Galacticas own guns.
        The basestar had died quickly, the fighters themselves had dived into the swarming
masses knowing they would be safe from Galacticas own guns and they could cause havoc
until his fighters redeployed.
        It was an annoyingly smart move from the supposedly dull-witted fighter-minds, but
one that wasn’t without its own cost; the Paladins were undergunned after all, which is not
the same thing as being completely without weapons at all.
        “Tally-ho!”
        Adama grinned grimly as a dozen new lights dived into the furball, marked as Viper
fighters, in moments the Cylon Raiders were disengaging, flicking into jump as fast as their
drives would spool.
        “They have confirmation now,” he noted grimly, staring his determination into the
faces of his officers, hoping to imprint his resolve on their minds, “they will be back and in
more force, we need to be ready to great them and we need to be ready to leave as soon as
possible.”
        He glanced back at the tactical for a moment, “get recovery to work, what craft we
can’t salvage, rig for demolition, don’t leave any allied equipment behind for the enemy to
reverse engineer.”

       “A bill was placed before the Commons today to reintroduce conscription in the face
of devastating losses inflicted, primarily on the Army, during the recent assaults on British


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soil and on the Earth as a whole. The bill is facing stiff opposition, indeed many see the very
thought of conscription as backsliding and a definite violation of basic human right but the
bill has its supporters too. Indeed, many see if as perhaps a necessary evil to help get the
military back to strength, though it will take several years for the infrastructure to grow to
support what would be a massive boast in numbers.
        It will be quite some time before a decision is made and passed into law, and
whatever happen, there are likely to be legal challenges, but one thing is certain, recruitment
rates are not high enough at the moment to replace the grievous losses inflicted and still
being inflicted on the worlds armed forces.”

        “Three probable Beliskner class vessels have been sighted over the Exeter exclusion
zone. Details are minimal, it is rumoured even Stargate Command and the Royal Star Service
do not know exactly how the radioactive residue is going to be cleaned up or even how long it
will take.
        What is known for definite is that the whole situation is being clamped under a
massive veil of secrecy, we have confirmed reports that several groups of reporters sent into
the exclusion zone unofficially have been arrested by the security services and have been told
they are not going to be released until the ‘Asgard’ vessels have left.
        Monitoring of military bases and movements seems to suggest a constant presence in
quite some force around the modified alien warships and amateur astronomers have
confirmed that the Atlantis is maintaining orbit over the vessels and is not on proving trials
as previously scheduled.
        This news agency thanks the Asgard for their presence and assistance but with this
secrecy, is forced to wonder if the previously stated purpose for the Asgard arrival is then
only reason they are here. And who exactly are the Asgard anyway?
        Little has been released to us beyond the fact that they are a powerful advanced race
which Stargate Command has maintained a long friendship with.
        We, and I am sure the general public, would like to know a lot more before we truly
begin to fell safe with these off-worlders in our skies.”

       “Twenty American nationals were arrested under strict American anti-terror laws
yesterday, sources within the FBI have suggested they were attempting to plant explosive
devices into construction supplies headed for the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. A new
radical organisation calling itself ‘Humans First’ has claimed responsibility for the
attempted attacks.”

        “Ten basestars should be enough,” the six commented idly.
        “It may be too many; we are stretched thin as it is, the war with the heretic
Unforgiven is taking its toil, not to mention the raids by Anubis’s forces and the constant
threat of attack by Maktenos…”the Doyle unit shook his head angrily, “ten capital ships is far
more then I would have wanted to divert at this time.”
        “Would you rather the Earthers pick apart a basestar?”
        “No,” he grimaced, “but they have already had it too long, they would certainly have
broken some of her secrets by know. If they are smart…”
        Six sent him a look which suggested underestimating the intelligence of the humans
was certainly not smart.
        “…then they have taken some smaller components off of the ships already and sent
them by courier direct to Earth.”




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         “So even if they lose the big prize they get something. Not to mention, if they disable
the minds of any fighters undergoing maintenance…” the Six turned her dismayed face to the
ceiling, “nine, where did it all go wrong?”
         “The day we involved ourselves with the humans once more, but it is too late to
change that now. We must consider the very real possibility instead that every single one of
our codes, worse, our basic method for creating ciphers is compromised, our tech base now
rests in human hands…”
         “Not yet.” She replied angrily.
         “No,” Doyle sighed in resignation, “but it will be another twenty minutes at least
before we are ready for our next attack on the Galactica. It’s almost certain the humans will
get away with something they can find useful, and I am betting they are going to go for our
fighter jump drives.”
         “Fine, so the humans get a little toy or too. I suggest we make sure they don’t get
away with the main prize. I suggest we jump as close to the basestar as possible and launch
every missile, every fighter at it. The humans can wait.”
         “Agreed, but the minds aboard…”
         “Are compromised, block them from the resurrection.”
         “No,” the Doyle turned a firm eye on the Six, slightly disturbed by her callousness,
“we may have need of them in the future and they are our brethren, for the moment I suggest
we box them on arrival.”
         “Fine, but the basestar dies. Then we move onto the humans.”

        “How long until we can jump?”
        “Twenty-five minutes Commander, forty-nine of the Paladins have already left and
the second wave is forming up now.”
        “Very well,” Adama paused, “the Paladins with disabled hyperdrives, signal them to
form on us. Those that can should fold wings and land in both bays as soon as the Vipers are
on board. Tell the rest to maglock to the hull.”
        “The stress of jump entry might pull a few from the hull,”
        “But not all.”

        “This is Brian Palmer broadcasting from Thundersdawn station, the jewel in the
crown of the Royal Star Service. This station, despite being placed in Mars orbit not Earth
for security reasons, is the prime defensive outpost for our home system but it has a mixed
history. The secrecy of its construction meant a lot of the superior technologies gathered by
the American Stargate Command were unavailable and resulted in a station without shields
or effective anti-ship weaponry but with perhaps the best CIWS, that is anti-fighter and
antimissile batteries of the time.
        The Asgard, in a move whose motives remain questioned, provided the station with
the now common Gauss rifles and an older mark of shield immediately after the 1st Battle of
Sol whilst the combined forces of the RSS and SGC concentrated on repairs and rebuilding.
                This station over the years has produced feats of unparrelled bravery,
discovery secrecy and of course, treachery. Some say that treachery started with the secrecy
of the operation that created the station in the first place, but that is a matter for history to
discuss. The station is known now and we, as humans must learn to live with everything it
represents and the reasons it came to be in the first place.
                And of course, we must learn to live with war on a galactic scale. This is not
what humanity, what we wanted when we started to reach for the stars, we wanted the stars
to represent hope, peace, security and perhaps survival, witness perhaps the best known of
all space shows, Star Trek and its bold, hopeful but ultimately lost vision of the future


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        But is it a future we can yet recapture?
        Yes, that stars are at war and yes, we are struggling to survive but in all this
desperate struggle that we fight and have fought, there has been hope. Stargate Command in
particular has a strong history of rescuing enslaved peoples, liberating other worlds, often
losing men and women of the Command in the process.
        As much as we might hate the secrecy of the pains and deaths it has caused, it has to
be said that both services have tried to bring liberty and justice to the stars, and they have
brought hope to many. So, are they heroes or villains?
        This is the big question of the hour and one we intend to try to answer over the next
week of reports, enemy action permitting of course.”


Twenty-Five

         “A scene more in common with a kicked anthill then a major military base as Paladin
after Paladin lands, often disgorging battered and bloodied soldiers and troops. Not all walk
out of the craft under their own power, some are carried off by medics and doctors and more
then a few have been carried out in body bags.
         The normal detritus of a battle and there are certainly enough of those you might
think. But the transport craft you see beyond the boundary fence are not the Aerospace
variant of the Paladin; they are all space capable craft. This means another battle in the skies
above our heads.
         Where exactly and how this battle occurred has not yet been revealed to us but one
thing we know for definite, the cost on our side at least, has been bloody. Not all of these
craft have landed intact, not five minutes ago, we saw a Paladin brought into land by an
Airhead, its hull rent and torn. So far, they have brought nobody alive out of that craft and at
the moment, they appear to have given up the search for the moment.
         Just beyond you can see another transport, this one has its pulse laser turret on the
front still deployed and you can see the metal has melted and run around the weapons
indicating tremendous heat from near constant firing.
         We’ve also had reports of a crash near Manston where a Paladin has literally driven
itself into the ground, completely out of control and an explosion near Cape Canaveral in
America where these craft have also been landing.
         But these are not front line warcraft we are seeing; these are support craft, at best
troop transports, not craft that should be in combat unless the situation is desperate.
         One can only wonder how long it will be before the truth is revealed by the space
services.”

        “Five minutes until jump Commander,”
        Adama smiled tightly, they were so close to success. If they had the ability to swiftly
replace the central computer, they could already have jumped, but as the Earther’s said, if
wishes were equines, there would be a lot of horsemeat on the menu. Instead of horseshit
which was what most of the politicians produced apparently…
        No, instead they had to manually enter the coordinates, manually sequence up the
jump engines, manually feed power in the coils. It took longer, doubly so when you
considered they were doing all this with an unfamiliar and hostile warship.
        But they were almost there.
        Almost… every ship remaining was either fully rigged and ready for jump or was
physically linked to a jump capable ship. Given the number of disabled Paladins and Vipers
floating about the system, that meant the bays of both the Galactica and the prize were full to


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near capacity. They had just a few slots remaining, just in case the Cylons launched a last
minute attack and some of the Viper VIII and IX’s were hit badly enough to kill their own
jump drives but it looked just as if they might…
        Adama killed the thought. He was all too aware of what the 13th Colony called
Murphys Laws of Combat and as far as he was concerned they were all true, doubly so the
one about not tempting….
        “Jump signatures… multiple capital ships. Raider launches, it’s the cylons!”
        …fate.
        Four minutes thirty seconds to jump too.
        “Order the Vipers to close support procedures on the prize, manoeuvring, I want us
placed to put a suppression barrage midrange between the Cylons and the captured Basestar
and mind that it is midrange,” Adama glanced sharply aware from the tactical readout to
catch the eye of one of his officers, “weapons, don’t bother firing on the Basestars. Just put
everything into suppression and point defence.”
        “Radiological alarm! Cylon Basestars are launching nukes. I’m also picking up traces
from multiple Raiders.”
        Adama grimaced, his eyes firmly back on the tactical display, his expression moving
to stony as he noted the nine Cylon Basestars launching literally everything they had at the
captured Basestar.
        Four Minutes.
        The first wave of missiles arrived faster then the Raiders and was promptly
intercepted by the waiting Vipers, the space around the Basestar vanishing into a furball of
red and blue markers that would have had less experienced officers overwhelmed in
moments. Adama had seen such furballs often enough to be able to follow the pattern and he
nodded slightly, for the moment the line was holding.
        He glanced down as his hands resting on the central table of the command centre
registered tremors, then glanced across the room where a schematic of the Galactica was
blazoned with flashing yellow Led lights all along the portside main and a few topside.
        Weapons batteries firing.
        Three Minutes Thirty Seconds.
        He glanced directly up, his eyes darting with practised precision towards the tactical
readout as a cone appeared on it, spreading out from the Galactica and encompassing a
goodly proportion of the space between Cylons and the prize and her escort. He nodded
grimly as the tail end of the first wave of missiles was caught in the cone and devastated but
not destroyed. Then a wave of red intersected the deadly suppression barrage and Adama
frowned, knowing there were far too many fighters for the barrage to get them all.
        The Vipers were still going to be busy and if they failed, then hundreds of Colonials
and Tau’ri would have died for nothing.
        Three Minutes.
        An alarm sounded and Adama bit back a curse as a tenth Basestar appeared, this time
on Galactica’s starboard side. Its missiles and Raiders weren’t heading for the prize; they
were heading for Galactica herself.
        Smart.
        A direct threat to the ship he had to respond too, it would distract him from defending
the prize, making the Basestar an easier kill.
        He saw no reason to cooperate though, he knew how long they had to hold out for and
the Cylons didn’t.
        “Divert power from portside shields to starboard, activate suppression batteries
starboard…” he paused, a thought slipping into his mind, then, with a smile so slight only
those closest to him would be able to spot it, Adama continued, “and feed targeting data to as


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many of the Paladins attached to the exterior of the hull as possible. If they have to hitch a
ride, might as well be of some use.”
         Time to trust in the Tau’ri shields, the Colonial armour and the tough old bird.
         Two minutes Thirty Seconds.
         He lets a tight grin appear on his face as the last nuclear tipped missile from the
Basestars initial salvo is destroyed, albeit close enough that he just knows they are going to
be needing a specialist materials handling team to remove the debris which is likely to be
embedded in the hull armour.
         The grin doesn’t stay long though, the fighters are getting through, their numbers
reduced, but not enough, the Vipers are still in a fight and only just holding their own.
         He grimaces, noticing a second wave of missiles leaving the Basestars.
         There is a rumble, the ship rocks, he glances towards the ships status readouts and
notices that the Galactica’s shields have been mildly reduced and that radiation is now
degrading the sensors on the starboard side.
         He isn’t worried for Galactica, he doesn’t think a single Basestar will be able to do
the Battlestar severe damage, not if they keep firing unenhanced nukes, but he is worried
about the Paladins and their far thinner hulls.
         The radiation…
         Not much that could be done about it now though.
         Two minutes.
         He grimaces as he notes a Viper deliberately allow a conventional missile through,
knowing no-one was behind him to intercept it. It had to be done; the real threat was the
Raider sized nuke that was the next missile in the stream.
         Still, if that conventional missile did enough damage…
         Impact.
         The icon for the prize doesn’t even twitch, the Basestar itself unmoved by the puny
mass and relatively small explosive force of the missile but that did not mean it didn’t do
damage.
         Adama finds himself smiling though as the last eight meters or so of one of the Cylon
capital ships upper arms vanishes. According to Boomer, there were no essential systems
there that would affect the ability of the ship to jump. At least, there weren’t on unmodified
Basestars.
         One Minute Thirty Seconds.
         The first Viper dies and Adama just files it away, keeping his grief for another time, it
was likely there would be more and this was no time for being distracted. There was still a
battle to be fought.
         A second Viper, this time rammed by a Raider, whether deliberate or accidental he
doesn’t know. What he does know is that they wont have the ability to police the battlefield
after this match.
         He also knows that he can’t allow a Viper, even a heavily damaged one, fall into the
hands of the Cylons for the same reasons the Cylons were so desperate to stop the Basestar
remaining in his hands.
         Too much could be learnt.
         He walks across, and has a quiet word with the weapons officer.
         One Minute.
         The second wave of nukes launched from the Basestar are crossing the suppression
barrage now, mixed in with the tail end of the Raider swarm.
         Many disappear from the scopes, some destroyed, some hidden by the signatures of
the nukes still carried by a few of the Raiders.



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         He orders Galactica to close with the prize, the Raiders and missiles will all be mixed
in with the Vipers soon enough and the suppression barrage wont do much good. The targeted
fire of the Mark 17 Pulse Lasers in CIWS mode would be of more use… albeit with the risk
of an abrupt manoeuvre putting a Viper straight into the path of a beam of coherent light
meant for an enemy.
         There is confirmation from the Basestar, almost ready to jump, less then a minute but
they won’t hang around, as soon as they are able they will be gone.
         Adama nods, and orders those Vipers that have sustained damage to find themselves a
perch PDQ, either on the Galactica or on the prize, unless they want to be left behind.
         Thirty seconds.
         Three more Vipers have died, another ten are headed towards Galactica to land on,
the prize crew on the Basestar has suggested they go elsewhere. Doesn’t matter if there is a
bird on final approach; they aren’t hanging around to wait for it.
         Not with all the people who have already died for this prize.
         Adama finds himself agreeing wholeheartedly.
         The Vipers are regrouping, clumping up, and knowing that as soon as the Basestar
goes, the Cylons will turn on them and any one caught on their lonesome will swiftly be
overwhelmed.
         If they want to survive, they have to be prepared to act as one.
         Twenty Seconds.
         Adama grimaces, there is a virtual wave of missiles heading towards the Basestar, the
Vipers and now Galactica herself are intercepting as many as they can, but there would be
leakers. How many would get through before the prize jumped, Adama didn’t want to guess.
         He spots a Viper jump out early. Some would call that cowardice but Adama can see
the lack of any friendly icons around the pilot. Isolated, he would have been killed swiftly;
alive he gets to fight another day.
         Still, he will find out who that was and he will remember it.
         Ten Seconds.
         He resists the urge to bite his nails; it’s far too unseemly for Battlestars Commander.
Any moment now, the prize should jump. The problem was, the wave of missiles were also
mere seconds form its objective.
         The mission would succeed or fail in the next few seconds.


Twenty-Six

         Five seconds.
         Jump!
         She jumped.
         The prize was away.
         Adama smiled broadly for a moment, and then schooled his expression, glancing
around soberly at the cheers filling the room, “we’re not done here yet. Order the Vipers to
jump to the rendezvous. Turn main guns to starboard and wipe that Basestar out of my sky!”
         He glanced towards the communications station, ignoring the slight wistful feeling
that filled him as his brain overrode his mouth and stopped him barking a Dualla, she wasn’t
here anymore after all, minor though it was, she had a command of her own nowadays.
         “Any life signs aboard the crippled Vipers?”
         “Negative, escape pods have been picked up by the last SAR Paladins, just two SAR
birds left on the scope and they are spooling up their FTL drives now. We also have one
Viper trying to maglock itself to the hull. Apparently there are no parking spaces left.”


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        Adama grunted, turning back towards the tactical display, his eyes darting sharply as
icon after icon blinked out, Viper after Viper using their short ranged jump drives to move to
the rendezvous a ‘mere’ 2 light seconds beyond the systems Oort Cloud.
        “Turn suppressive batteries on the portside on the cripples, let nothing remaining.”
        “Nukes sir?”
        “Too many Raiders, not enough nukes. Let’s not waste them.”

        “Raid warning! Three Raiders over Cherbourg.”
        “Radiological alarm?”
        “Negative… no weapons fire. I think we’ve got a recon patrol here.”
        “Any assets in range?”
        “Not immediately.”
        “Wait until they’ve gone then reposition every defensive platform. Let me know if the
situation changes too.”
        “Aye Commander.”

        “Engineering confirms internal power online and stable,” Enerist stated, “all stations
report ready.”
        “Very good,” Enerina smiled tightly, her hands resting lightly on the functional
command seat and glanced around the tight confines of the ‘bridge’. The Goa’uld, theyn
would not have accepted a room so Spartan, so functional, having any space that did not
obviously display wealth and power would have been seen as a sign of weakness but this
seemed to be more effective.
        Certainly less gaudy and overdone.
        “Secure from shore power,” the Goa’uld Queen turned Tau’ri ally stated softly,
satisfied that all was ready, “disconnect umbilicals and Enerist?”
        “Yes My Lady?”
        “Take her out,” she leaned back in her seat with a satisfied sigh, glad to be in
Command once more but knowing the major and hasty replacement of the main stardrive still
needed to be tested.
        “Aye My Lady.”

        “You know,” Peters stated calmly as she watched the launch of Defiant through the
viewing windows above Thundersdawn stations drydock One, “the Russians are still bitching
about that.”
        Fleet Admiral Thompson snorted, “They can bitch all they want. We need more ships
now. When the 1st Battlegroup arrives home it will mean almost a full third of our warships
and certainly our 2nd largest capital ship will be in the body and fender shop. We can’t afford
that. So, we ‘borrowed’ a hyperdrive meant for new construction of one of the ships they
funded to get Enerina back into space. That means one Dauntless takes longer too build but
we get another ship and another free slip now. I think I’ll stick with that.”
        “Not arguing,” Peters shrugged, “I agree, you know that, but the Russians are going to
use it as an excuse to demand some form of concession or discount again.”
        “Needs of the service,” Thompson shrugged, “that clause was put into the
construction contracts for a reason and this was pretty much it.”
        “How far away is the group?”
        “Two months. If they were fully operational it would just be a month and a half.”
        Peters nodded, “Okay, well, it is not going to take that long to prepare the slips to
receive the groups warships and I’m not going to have my crews sitting around twiddling
their thumbs so could you please have a word with supply?.”


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        “Oh?”
        “With Defiant launched we have three empty slips waiting for ships. At two crews per
slip that means six crews who can be diverted to the other slips to hurry up work on the
repairs to Liberty and Yorktown or hurry up the Dauntless II or Prometheus that are under
construction or hell, we’ve even got those two Colonial Sentinals under refit in slips six and
seven as well.”
        “Are the crews still under strength?” Thompson replied nodding, his eyes tightening
on the Defiant as he saw her manoeuvring thruster’s fire, nudging the ship around as she
cleared the main doors of the dry dock.
        “No,”
        The Commander of the Royal Space Service sent his second a surprised look, but
Peters just shrugged, “it is supposed to be three crews per slip but I had them compressed.
Okay, so we get more dead time this way but fewer corners are being cut safety wise so we’re
losing less people to accidents. It seems to be balancing out at the moment.”
        “But it does mean an eight hour shift when no work is being done on the ships.”
Thompson noted.
        “Yes, but we were getting a double hit there anyway, not just the crew but insufficient
support form supply. Okay, I know the op the Colonials have launched has taken a lot of the
ships used to keep us supplied but as soon as those are back we are going to need the backlog
cleared ASAP and additional supplies to allow three crews to work on each of the hulls.”
        Thompson nodded, “I will see what I can do but I’m afraid the problem is as always
too much too do and too little to do it with.”
        Peters smiled, “the crew chiefs finished their write-up yesterday. They estimate that if
supply comes through, they can have at least four ships ready to launch…”
        She turned to catch her bosses eyes, “…in a month and a half.”
        His eyebrows rose, “really?”
        Peters nodded, “an injection of warships just as the Battlegroup arrives home for
repairs.”
        “I will certainly be having a word with supply,” Thompson mused, a tight smile
appearing on his face as the docks outer doors began to close.

         “The poles are always going to be a weak spot,” Samantha Carter shrugged, “no such
thing as a geosynchronous orbit over the poles. Or at least, an unpowered one. Orbital physics
are based primarily around speed and height to keep an object in orbit but the numbers get a
little extreme…”
         “So when the days comes when we are able to cover those positions we are going to
need to build special and it will require a lot more effort and expense, is that what you’re
saying?”
         Carter nodded, hiding her surprise at the intelligent response from the politician,
reminding herself that not every person who ran for office was another Kinsey, only out for
themselves or a complete idiot.
         “But still,” the second member of the oversight committee responded, “we still need
to get the rest of the planet covered before we can consider such useless and sparsely
populated areas and that is not going so well.”
         “No,” Carter agreed, “the donations coming in from the public are helping but it has
to be said, the defences being constructed at the moment might be individually cheap but
many of them are required and their utility against warships is minimal. They are only really
effective against fighters and missiles.”
         “And only the Cylons really use missiles of all Earths enemies.”
         “But most, if not all, use fighters to some extent.” Carter replied.


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         “I don’t see why we don’t just divert all funding from warship construction and focus
on home defence,” the 2nd politician stated.
         Carter resisted the urge to roll her eyes, of course, just because the Committee
Chairman wasn’t an idiot didn’t mean every member of the committee had half a brain cell.
         “Fixed defences can be out manoeuvred; mobile defences need time to get into
position. This is why the safest defence is always a mixture of both.” She responded, “But if
the committee really want my opinion?”
         “Go on,”
         “Mass production,” she stated sufficiently, “at the moment the satellites are made the
same way satellites have always been made…. By specialists using expensive often one-off
equipment one at a time under full clean room conditions.”
         “You are saying money could be saved somehow?”
         “Yes,” Carter nodded, “but it would take investment first. We need to build a factory
just for satellites.”
         “Jeez,” the third committeeperson stated, “your talking billions of dollars. It would
have to be designed, the equipment would all have to be custom made, no-ones even tried
mass production of satellites before, personnel would have to be trained, you’re talking full
clean room protocol the whole time. Then we have to consider utilities and security…”
         “That is exactly how the Paladin construction facility at Cape Canaveral will work
when it goes online in a few days,”
         Carter made a mental note of the Chairpersons name, this ‘Evan Baxter’, she now had
a damn good idea who to talk to in future if she needed and intelligent decision, even if the
guys rep was bit… weird.
         “Exactly,” she replied.
         “A lot of eggs going into that one basket,”
         “We would have to push for the next type three to be stationed there but at least if
anyone does take Canaveral out, we would still have the ‘cottage industry’ facilities to make
the Paladins and the rest.”
         “The Royals wont like it that we’ve dropped what will be another strategic facility on
American soil,”
         “Screw them; they don’t get to vote for us.”


Twenty-Seven

       One Month Later.

       “Rioting has broken out again in five cities in the United Kingdom as conscription is
read back into law by the reconstituted parliament for the duration. Several civil liberties
groups have already proclaimed their intention to take the British Government to the court of
human rights over this but the court, already snowed under by the sheer volume of cases
brought since Disclosure, is unlikely to be able to hear the case for several years.”

        “The ongoing colonisation of Alpha Centauri Prime stalled today when the last of the
former Colonial Civilian vessels used for personnel transport failed to keep its operating
license. These vessels were heavily used and abused by the fleeing colonials prior to their
recovery by EarthForce and allied units and all are now considered unusable.
        This leaves only the far smaller Paladins for personnel transport and the overworked
Merchants for cargo.



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        The Colonial Government in Exile has confirmed their intention to refit several
vessels to operational status, most likely by cannibalising over vessels in order to maintain
their control over the lucrative traffic between Sol and Alpha Centauri.”

        “The FBI, assisted by units of the National Guard broke the back of the so-called
‘Army of American Liberation’ in an assault on the proscribed organisations stronghold on
the outskirts of Detroit. The organisation, reportedly responsible for several incidents of
ethnic cleansing in the region was formed in the aftermath of Disclosure to ‘liberate’ the
United States from its current, apparently oppressive government.
        An official White House representative would not comment except to say that it was
now an issue for the courts.”

        “The deadlock in the French Parliament continues today as yet another vote on the
nation’s status in the new world order that is forming fails to achieve the necessary majority
verdict.
        Approximately one third of the vote is still to break away from NATO, Europe and
Earthforce and go it alone, not trusting those who destroyed the former French capital of
Paris rather then fight for the city step by step, an ironic echo of the destruction of Nagasaki
and Hiroshima during the Second World War.
        Whilst the vote for further integration with Earth Force and heightened support for
earths primary defensive force gained some votes in the last round it was not enough to force
the issue.
        Where France decides to go in the future lies solely in the hands of the undecided
final third and both sides are pushing their weight and their publicity budgets to sway as
many as possible to their cause.
        It is a contentious issue and one that has already caused numerous arguments and
occasionally outright fights on the floor of the Parliament, where this will go, only time will
be able to tell us.”

       “Japans stance of pacifism officially founded at the end of the Second World War
came to an end today as an amendment to the constitution was passed authorising military
funding to Earthforce and the use of Japanese personnel and assets in offensive operations
against any who would threaten Earth.
       However, the word as far as Earth based threats is concerned remains the same,
defensive actions only.”

        “An Earthforce Marine Corp spokeswoman has confirmed the capture of a Cylon
operative as well as a number of human collaborators in what has been described as a highly
sophisticated electronic listening post near the Nevada Desert in the United Sates.
        No comment has yet been made on how Cylon troops continually succeed in
bypassing Earths defences.”

        “Rumours have begun circulating of a top secret meeting between Earthforce and the
Unforgiven group of Cylons as to a possible Notice of Understanding between Earth, the
Colonial Government in Exile and the Unforgiven.
        This would not be an official peace between the three sides but it would lay down the
rules by which a peace could possibly be obtained. Fleet Admiral Thompson has personally
denied these rumours, calling them mere wishful thinking but if these rumours aren’t true,
why has the most senior officer of the Earthforce Navy been the one to deny them and not the
public relations department?”


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        “The ongoing cleanup of the radioactive debris in the Exeter Exclusion Zone paused
today as once more, the aging, yet still fantastically advanced Beliskner class vessels being
used for the cleanup left Earths atmosphere to deposit their cargos of highly contaminated
wastes into a decaying orbit around the Sun.
        The ongoing cleanup, started just over a month ago, is estimated to take another
month before the open spaces around Exeter will be considered clean and safe for all. No
estimates have been given for the clearance of the remains of the city of Exeter itself nor have
we been told what, if anything is to be done about the increased levels of atmospheric
radiation caused by the Cylon bombs.”

        “The Hague threw out war crimes tribunals against the former Stargate Command,
Royal Star Service and their supporting nations stating that its primary purpose was to deal
with atrocities, ill treatment of prisoners and other such violation of the Geneva and Hague
Conventions.
        Alas, running a secret war and hiding the existence of hostile aliens was a matter for
other courts. Off the record, it was added that they would dearly love to get their hands on
the Goa’uld and the Cylons as well as several other groups but doubt whether their authority
would be recognised by such.
        Next stop, Nuremburg and already Principle IV of the Nuremburg Conventions is
being bandied around but as much as some would like to claim a crime against peace has
been committed the groups which make up the newly constituted Earthforce could also claim
that they did not initiate the war and that, unknown to them, it was technically ongoing when
the Stargate was reopened.
        Indeed, if the information provided by Stargate Command is to be believed, the last
few thousand years have literally just been a respite in a war of epic proportions.
        One thing is for certain, this is an argument that is likely to run through the courts
and the media for decades to come.”

        “A proposal by the Russian Government to create an off-world prison facility has
been blocked by the British and American Governments on the grounds of increased expense
and the real difficulty in reacquiring escaped prisoners on less well populated worlds. It is
worth noting at this time that no currently habitable world within the Earthforce territory
without ignoring Posse Comitatus or the local equivalent.
        This is despite rumours stating that Stargate Command maintained such a facility for
several years to hold those who breeched its security, indeed, Stargate Command and now
Earthforce is known to have the addresses of several worlds that have a Stargate but not a
dialling device, making an instant effective but one-way prison.”


Twenty-Eight

        “A nation united, if only perhaps for a moment, as the Russian President announces
the names of the new, Russian funded warships set to join the spaces forces within the next
two months.
        Of the Dauntless I class, there will the Potemkin and the Peter the Great. The sole type
II Dauntless will be the Vostock, at this point this ship is believed to be the last to launch due
to the appropriation of her hyperdrive by the Royal Space Service to allow the Defiant to re-
enter service sooner.



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        No word as yet as to the location of the construction facilities used for these vessels
from the any of the spacefaring governments, except to say that the location is highly
classified.
         The final Russian vessel expected to enter service soon will be Yuri Gagarin, a
Prometheus class warship named after the first Earth human in space which is being
constructed at Thundersdawn station.
        These are likely to be the last vessels funded directly by the Russian government for
quite some time as budgetary constraints, made worse by the costs of rebuilding the nation
are known to be forcing a major re-evaluation of spending by the Russian Government,
indeed, by all governments ”

       “Riot police in Belgium used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd in
Ostend today but not quickly enough to save a twenty year old student who had been accused
of being a Cylon collaborator. This is the tenth such month killing in Belgium in the last
month but most tellingly, Belgium currently has the lowest numbers of such killings of any of
the European nations.”

       “Chaos in France once more as a vote of no confidence in the current French
administration is passed, making this the sixth French government to fall since disclosure.
This no confidence vote followed yet another failure to determine the nation’s future in a post
disclosure world.
       Rumours are already spreading that the Peacekeeping forces currently in France are
considering forcing a referendum on the issue, taking the matter out of government’s hands
and placing it firmly in the hands of the people.
       Whether any new government would accept or even acknowledge such a vote is
however, considered doubtful.”

        “The Cylons are not going to be happy about this,” O’Neill commented, a glitter in
his eyes.
        “The Cylons can go frak themselves.” Adama replied, his face hard, “we lost enough
people grabbing this prize.”
        “Lot of people didn’t think you would manage it, though this was a waste or
resources,” The General shrugged, “I was very close to being one of them. Not easy to
capture a Ha’tak that’s landed, vulnerable. To board and seize a hostile warship… damn fine
work.”
        The aging Admiral smiled tightly, “it’s not over yet. We still have to keep her.”
        “Keep her hell,” O’Neill grinned, “we’re stripping her. You got a few fighters aboard
her, one of those is on Ravenbright already being geeked over, we got Valour’s Sword
shipping another and that heavy raider to Earth along with sample Warriors and weapons
systems. Most of the Human forms were dead but the survivors are being interrogated
groundside and we got more geeks on-route from Earth aboard Valour’s Hour which will be
used as the base for the investigation teams.”
        Adama nodded, grimacing. It might have been the Colonials plan to take the Basestar
and it might have been mainly Colonial Warriors who died in the op but the Colonials didn’t
have the scientific expertise and more importantly, the infrastructure necessary to support the
experts to do the bulk of the analysis themselves. The deadly part of the op was over and that
glory was theirs but the knowledge would come mostly distilled through the Tau’ri.
        Inevitable, but irritating.
        Then again, the Tau’ri had lost a good few people and support ships on this op too.



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        The Admiral searched his mind for a moment then glanced at his counterpart, “a
single non-upgraded Ha’tak won’t be enough defence for the Basestar if the Loyalists or
Secessionists decide us having her is far too much of a risk.”
        “As soon as all the nukes are removed she’s being shifted next to Ravenbright.”
O’Neill grin momentarily resembled that of a shark, “if they want her, they can come through
us.”
        Adama turned back to his desk, hiding a grin as he conceded the point. He wouldn’t
have wanted to attack Ravenbright either. But still…
        “Our prize, I have no doubt Roslin will want some part of protecting her and the
analysis work.”
        “Something you have no problem with but are going to force Roslin into manipulating
you into pushing for.” O’Neill replied, his tone ironic.
        “I have no idea what you are talking about,” The Colonial Warrior replied,
“manipulating the civilian government like that is illegal.”
        His response was a muffled snort, “still, you have to keep Galactica close to Freedom
for the moment in case of a reprisal strike and you don’t have a lot of other assets to spare for
point defence.”
        “True,” he reached up, pulling his glasses of his face and tapping them against the
table, “but with the op over its time to repair, enjoy the morale boast and reorganise. It’s
Earth that needs the bulk of the forces at the moment, not Alpha Centauri.”
        “There are six fully operational warships at earth compared to four here, ignoring the
damaged ships and ships in need of refit.” O’Neill replied, “Earth is as covered as she can be
right now. The situation will be marginally better when the battlegroup gets back.”
        “One operational warship and four headed for the shipyards?”
        The Tau’ri officer nodded, conceding the point, “As always, too many fires…”
        “Not enough piss for all of them,” the two Soldiers shared an understanding,
comradely grin.

        “What is needed is an offensive,”
        Fleet Admiral Thompson frowned, “I agree, we need to do something substantial to
weaken Anubis’s forces in particular, but an offensive risks a counter-offensive and frankly,
if Anubis, the Loyalists, the Secessionists, hell any of them decide to turn their attention to
Earth we’re buggered. We can stand up against raids but not against an all out fleet assault.”
        “Not much of the Loyalist Cylons left, they are mainly integrated now into Anubis’s
forces,” Peters replied sighing, tapping at her desk with her pen, “but both points stand. We
need to be offensive, we need to be weakening our enemies both on the ground and in the
skies, we need the morale boast of a successful offensive action even with the risks entailed
but we don’t have the ships for it.”
        “The 1st Battlegroup…”
        “Will be out of action for months,” Peters grimaced, “at least one of the ships is
practically a hulk and will be out for at least a year.”
        “That long?”
        “That long.”
        “Then the group will have to be reconstituted around Atlantis using whatever ships we
can scrape up.” Thompson frowned, “that means the Russians.”
        “Offer them a few slots in the Battlegroup, tell them it’s going to be used offensively
and they may just kiss you,” the Rear-Admiral replied dryly.
        “The problem is hulls,”




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         “The problem is personnel and supplies,” Peters countered, “I know the construction
situation better then you, with more personnel, more supplies we could get new hulls at lot
faster.”
         “Which leads to security, training and money,” Thompson countered, gaining a laugh
in response.
         “As always, I don’t think I ever realised how interconnected everything was until I hit
Captain and it just gets worse from there up.”
         “And it’s just going to get worse, especially with the more expert personnel such as
dockyard and construction staff,”
         “Gaia,”
         “Gaia,” Thompson confirmed, “not to mention that her construction site will need to
be protected as well.”
         “And this we all need to do whilst preparing for a more offensive stance,” the
Commander of Thundersdawn station frowned, “I’m not sure how we are going to do it.”
         “We’ll have too.”
         “In which case, we are going to have some very difficult decisions to make,” Peters
nodded, “and I’ve been thinking about a few things already, starting with the great prize the
Gatecrashers found.”
         “Oh?”
         “She has to be dismantled right down to the gunwales anyway because of the
biohazard risk, I say we strip her completely, part her out.” She leaned forward, hands on the
table, “parts for the Ha’taks for years, a shitload of trinium we can use for construction and
repairs, the Naquadah… hell, even the gold. A Goa’uld built capital ship? There will be
enough gold on that hull to seriously depress the market value.”
         “Her main weapons might do nicely built into a defensive platform at Gaia…”
Thompson mused, and then smiled, “you know, a lot of people won’t be happy with your
idea.”
         “With Galactica and Atlantis we have all the capital hulls we can really support at the
moment. We can get far more use out of her this way….”
         “I agree totally,” Thompson replied, “and I’ll have the Ha’taks stripped of Gold as
they go in for refits too. We’ll have to be careful how we dump it onto the market but it’ll
certainly help defray costs. That’s one, what’s number two?”
         “The land of the light is developing into a major ally but a weak one, relying on us for
everything. I say we divert some of the money we are using to build infrastructure into
teaching them how to build infrastructure and how more effortlessly find resources
themselves.”
         “Placing long term benefits over immediate necessity…” Thompson shrugged, “I
believe Hammond is already working on that but as we don’t have any actual naval presence
at the Land of the Light, it’s not something I have too much info on. I’ll look into it.”
         “For three, we need more mines, and I don’t mean surface installations.”
         “Minehead and Coalmine…”
         “Are both operating to capacity and that capacity isn’t much,” she shrugged, “they
proved space based mining complexes were feasible and better yet profitable. Now we should
be going for the full industrial mine and get ores and particularly naquadah moving a lot
faster.”
         “That will require a lot of initial investment and right now its blood from a stone. We
don’t have the money… to be frank; our money is likely to shrink from individual countries
for the next few years. The only think that is going to keep it somewhat even is the new
countries that are sighing up.”



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        “Use the Gold from the Goa’uld ships to start a capital investment fund instead of just
ploughing it back into the normal budget?”
        “A possibility,” Thompson noted, “but when you said mining, I rather suspect that is
not all you were referring too.”
        “Water and air,” Peters grimaced, “recycling isn’t perfect and we are regularly
dumping waste water and air, not to mention basic losses of both. At the moment, both have
to be shipped from an atmosphere but we know there’s water on the moon we can get to with
relative ease, which gives us the obvious, supplies of water but we can also borrow a trick
from nuke boats and extract oxygen.”
        “Great,” Thompson grimaced, “another capital project, short term massive costs, long
term savings.”
        “The Williams twins have already had words with me on some of this, frankly, they
are off the opinion we need to reorganise and build up the support structures before we can
make a big push on offensive assets. It’s not only them I am hearing it from either, O’Neill,
Carter, Hammond, hell, even Kalinda have all been dropping hints or downright anvils.”
        “Right now, support structures like these aren’t going to sound too attractive to the
politicians and the general public, they want to hear of more warships, more defensive
bases.”
        Peters grimaced, “right now, it’s difficult just supporting what we have. If the number
of ships starts to shoot up and when Gaia starts to come online, it might just, then we could
well end up with more ships then we can support. We need to work on the infrastructure.
        Frankly, I’m not even convinced we can support Gaia right now.”
        “Great,” Thompson grimaced, “thanks for bringing this to my attention sooner.”
        “I’ve tried; my mail keeps getting lost in the post. Same for messages sent by the
Williams twins, Murielle is already looking into it.”
        “Infiltrators?”
        “She doesn’t think so,” Peters reached into her pocket, grabbing a pen-drive which
she passed across, “she thinks we’ve got an Empire-builder in our ranks.”
        “Emphasis on Empire?”
        “Very.”


Twenty-Nine

         *Crack*
         The sound of the high powered rifle split the air and the target turned swiftly, and then
abruptly dropped, blood marring the advertising board behind her.
         Murielle swiftly changed her aim as the group began diving for cover and swiftly
began to ‘service’ her targets, one eye firmly behind the scope, the other wandering, looking
for threats, keeping a track of her and her teams kills.
         A slight sound, barely on the edge of hearing but a red alert to a veteran such as
herself made her duck as debris and shrapnel suddenly fountained just a meter away. She
heard three sets of screams and grimaced. Three injured… but there had been four in that
little gully.
         A pity… but definitely a job hazard.
         She raised her head again, eyes darting as she searched for the mortar. Seconds later
she spotted it, didn’t appear to be a human model but then again, the fact that it was being
serviced by a pair of Cylon Centurions did give it away somewhat.
         Her rifle might be high-powered but it wasn’t that high powered.
         Then again it didn’t need to be.


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        “Beta One, alpha actual, counter-battery fire. Enemy mortar in clearing directly
between building four and the cesspit, adjust fire! Out.”
        “Copy counter-battery fire on enemy mortar between building four and the cesspit.
Out.”
        “Fire when ready.”
        Murielle raised her rifle, firing now not to kill but to suppress the human forms in the
area of the mortar, to prevent them moving away.
        “Shot over.”
        “Shot Out,” she acknowledged, grimacing as a group she damn well knew were not
human forms darted into site, firing irregular, spray and pray fire in the general direction of
her team.
        Collaborators.
        Bloody bastards and traitors in her lexicon, but hey, it was the collaborators they were
hear for after all. They had interrogators just waiting for that opportunity…
        A fountain of dirt was raised again and she cursed, hand diving for her leg. She tapped
the shoulder of the soldier at her side but he didn’t respond except to fall over. Quickly she
checked him over and found his right side completely bloody and torn and no pulse. Cursing,
she checked her leg, finding a large shard of metal sticking out both sides of her right leg.
        Fuck.
        Not much she could do with that now except hope it didn’t bleed out, medic was
kinda busy already after all.
        “Splash over.”
        “Splash out” Murielle acknowledged, whilst simultaneously trying to make herself
one with the dirt, trying to burrow into the ground just in case her own mortar team needed to
go back to gunnery school, yet not disturb her leg too much and keep an eye on the target,
watching for the hit.
        Dirt fountained, this time in Cylon territory and three collaborators dropped to the
ground, looked like two mission kills and a plain kill. Useful… but it wasn’t the mortar.
        “Up eighty and fire for effect!”
        The rifle was raised once more, firing carefully, suppressing more then killing. They
weren’t here for the kills, they were here for prisoners. Didn’t mean some didn’t die, some
didn’t have to die… but war was hell. You rarely got exactly what you wanted.
        Instinctively following through the normal call and response with the mortar team,
she kept one eye behind the scope, one eye wandering the compound once more.
        She heard splash over once more and her eye darted straight towards the mortar team.
Five seconds later it vanished as dirt and shrapnel filled the air. Then came a secondary
explosion… then a larger explosion that even from 150 yards away she felt the heat off.
        “Beta One, Alpha Actual. Cease fire and release. Out”
        “Copy, cease fire and release for other fire missions, out.”
        The smoke slowly cleared and she grinned, releasing that they had caught the mortars
ammo and detonated that. That was the big secondary…
        Should put a dent in the opposition… in fact, whilst there was still fire from other
parts of the compound, this end, for the moment, appeared to be quiet. Time to advance then
before the Cylons covered the gap.
        She crawled across, grimacing at the pain this triggered in her leg, heading for the
next group of soldiers. These she knew were of the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment, not the
SAS troopers who had made up her personnel squad and were now mostly mission kills
thanks to that mortar.
        She tapped the first solider, a private by the insignia and quickly signalled an advance
by sections into the compound by building four.


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        She turned away as the fresh faced soldier started passing the order along, turning
back towards the compound, preparing to give covering fire. There was a sudden sharp pain
in her leg and she stifled a scream. Glancing back, she caught the apologetic glance of a
medic and grimaced, knowing that this was not likely to be fun.
        Another sharp pain and she suddenly felt weak, could feel every beat of her heart, her
vision greying at the edges. A voice was shouting behind her but she knew no more.

         “Alpha five calling Alpha two. You are now actual; over.”
         “Bollocks,” Lieutenant Henders commented swiftly before tapping his radio, sending
a swift acknowledgement. He glanced across his troopers swiftly, assessing, his mind racing
through every communication he had heard over the radio.
         They were weakened, had taken losses but so had the enemy.
         He nodded, his mind made up, they were still on.
         He raised himself slightly, catching the eyes of the soldiers around him then signalled
the advance, confirming the agent’s last orders.
         In twos they moved forward, Henders finding himself in the third group to cross out
of the lumps and bumps and scattered trees of the fields, jump across the old, ratty groin
height wooden fence into the landscaped flat ground surrounding the complex. Then the dash
across to the corner of building four, where, behind the old mortared stones of the storage
building they could catch a quick breath, two more groups followed okay but a shot rang out,
dropping the lead soldier of the next group to the ground.
         His partner dropped, hugging the dirt but bullets began to disturb the ground around
him and cursing, he had to abandon his comrade, running full pelt towards the cover of the
building.
         Gunfire rang out, the four troopers still waiting to move forward all engaging a target
Henders couldn’t see, he crept forward carefully, moving towards the corner, pulling a mirror
out of a pocket of her Bergen.
         Swiftly he attached the handle then carefully aimed the simple device round the
corner then he stepped back, and signalled for three grenades.
         The three deadly eggs were tossed carefully around the corner, followed swiftly by six
of his troopers, one fell, his head at an unnatural angle to his body. The remainder swiftly
found cover, the doorway to the barn, a brick wall, a tractor, and the remains of the Cylon
mortar.
         He heard running and sharp breathes behind him and Henders turned around, then
nodded grateful acknowledgement as the four remaining troopers arrived, dragging the body
of the one soldier to fall in the dash across the open ground behind them.
         Three of the soldiers turned to join him, the fourth, a simple red cross on his arms,
turned towards the injured man and set to work.
         Glancing at one of the troopers, an older man, one who would if not for the chaos,
most likely have been relegated to a desk job or retired by now and signalled him to watch
over the medic. Accepting the order, the Sergeant knelt down by the medic, rifle raised, his
eyes quickly and continuously probing the area.
         He glanced around the corner once more, in his moment of distraction his troopers
had managed to leapfrog forward. He tapped the shoulders of two of his shoulders, sending
them forward, and then ordered the rest to head the opposite direction, along the building to
the eastern corner, an attempt at a flanking manoeuvre.
         Turning, he followed the bulk of his troops into the compound, grimacing slightly at
the fallen shape of another of his soldiers.

       “Lieutenant Henders reports mission success.”


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         General Davis glanced up sharply at those words, “Henders? What happened to
Murielle?”
         The aide shot him a puzzled glance, and then turned his eyes to the report on his PDA,
“the only Murielle listed is as WIA but there is no last name or rank attached.”
         “No,” the man once known as ‘Disaster’ Davis replied grimly, “there wouldn’t be.
Forward a mission report to Fleet-Admiral Thompson ASAP and make sure you include a
full status report on Murielle.”
         “Of course sir,” came the response, the tone indicating clearly he had no idea why.
         Dismissing the aide, Davis turned back to the reports on his desk, grimacing then
sighing as he realised he was now thoroughly distracted. He would have difficulty getting
down to mere paperwork now.
         Murielle…
         He still didn’t her real name or where she came from, all he knew was that she was
among the best damn… operatives Thompson had.
         He also knew that Thompson didn’t just think of her as an operative, as a soldier. It
was like O’Neill and Carter all over again…
         This was going to be a problem.


Thirty

         Captain Jones grimaced, wearily rubbing his forehead.
         It had been far too long, too long since he last felt real gravity, not the scientists wet
dream that passed for gravity aboard ship, too long since he had felt a breeze across his face,
too long since he had enjoyed the subtle scent of flowers in the air.
         He knew the crew felt the same way as well, knew they were aching to touch real
solid ground once more, real solid Earth. They were all tired.
         It couldn’t be helped.
         The convoy had to travel at the speed of its slowest member and that meant as fast as
whichever ship was towing Persephone. At one point he had turned everyone’s attentions
towards seeing if there was anyway to get the ships own hyperdrive working again and it had
worked for a time, raising morale, quite distracting people from the long slog ahead of them,
but it was hopeless.
         The drive would need to be completely replaced.
         All other options had been exhausted long ago, all the repairs they could carry out
across the fleet were done, and the reports were completed, the gaming tournaments done to
oblivion, their few books worn beyond legibility.
         Now they were just tired.
         Morale was bad, but it was an apathetic bad, not the dangerous rebellious bad. That
was in a way a good thing but in a way not. It meant the crew just didn’t have the energy,
could be bothered to rebel.
         He couldn’t blame them. He didn’t exactly fell so great himself and he knew after
this, the entire ships companies were likely to be rotated out and replaced, he himself was
most likely headed to Thundersdawn or perhaps the design teams scattered across the various
bases to turn his experience into improving the next generation of Britannica’s.
         He would welcome the change, like his people he had been seeing the same walls,
same faces for too long. He really hoped he didn’t end up as stir crazy as Leading Rating
Todd, they had been forced to divert course after that incident to find a gate to send her
through, forcibly and straight jacketed.
         Another week flight time that added on.


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         Still…
         Every day passed was one day closer to home.
         That goal was very real, was perhaps the only thing other then their sense of duty the
crew could really grasp and hold onto. Admittedly the few small injections of crew and
supplies they had received each time they passed a gate had helped but you couldn’t replace
an entire ships company that way really, and they five battered hulks to recrew.
         He doubted that there was really that many spare trained crew in existence at the
moment. Good thing almost the entire group was headed into refit when they got home.
         Least they had the Minbari covering their six. Of course, he had a pretty solid idea
their crews had gotten rebellious at times but they were still watching their sixes and even if
they did occasionally appear injured or battered, it was the same faces he saw on the comm.
screens and in person whenever they had need for a talk.
         They had even drilled together, gotten as proficient at operating as a unit as you can
when dealing with a cripple and three badly damaged ships.
         Searcher being the odd one out there, all her damage had been repairable or not
critical. She wasn’t fully operational but she was damn close to it. One ship that was already
gaining the reputation for being lucky, especially after they had found the dud enemy missile
lodged inside a munitions locker.
         He just hoped Murphy, the bastard, didn’t make an appearance….
         “Battlestations! Battlestations! This is NOT a drill, all hands man battlestations.
Captain to the bridge.”
         Bollocks, he hadn’t even said it.

       “Report!” Captain Jones barked as he strode onto the bridge.
       Lt Hayes jumped swiftly out of the Command chair, diving for tactical as she
responded, “multiple inbound contacts, reads as Goa’uld Ha’taks. Power signature is high but
we don’t have a positive ID on their loyalty at the moment.”
       “How many?”
       “Six,” Hayes replied, nudging the crewman off of tactical, her hands dancing over the
controls, “and with Persephone we can’t outrun them.”
       “Damn,” he replied, settling into the command chair, “okay, signal the fleet, drop to
sub-light and prepare to engage the enemy. Let’s see if they follow us.”
       “Aye Captain.”

         “They’ve followed Captain,” Hayes commented quietly some ten minutes later, “and
I’m not picking up any IFF beacons.”
         Jones grimaced, a lack of IFF beacons ruled out Maktenos, the Free Jaffa and Earth.
That left Anubis, scattered Goa’uld remnants, Jaffa Raiders and anyone else who might have
been able to get their hands on a bunch of Ha’taks.
         Still…
         It did mean they were highly unlikely to be friendly, which in one way made his job a
little easier and in other ways… definitely harder.
         The Minbari… he didn’t think much of their chances against standard Ha’taks and if
these had been updated in anyway. As for the rest of his squadron, well, this was going to be
fun. Not.

       “The Swedish public today voted to confirm entry into the Tau’ri Star Service; this
will mean greater funding and more access to personnel, a thought which must be causing a
few deep sighs of relief in the beleaguered and under funded force charged with Earth’s
defence against external threats.


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          The effect of this new arrival will not be felt for some time as negotiations now have
to confirm the depth and details of Sweden’s involvement in this increasingly international
but still British and American dominated force.”

        “Panic and rioting in the streets of Washington and of several other cities worldwide
as a leaked report confirms that Cylon vessels are capable of jumping straight into Earth’s
atmosphere, bypassing the all the defensive ships and platforms maintained by Earthforce.
        When asked for comments, the only response received was that the issue was ‘being
looked into by technical and development teams’, confirming that as yet, Earthforce knows
no way of stopping these Cylons and the potentially devastating uses to which this ability can
be put, such as jumping into the skies over our cities, dropping a nuke and jumping straight
out again.
        The incompetence of our military once more needs to be seen to be believed.”

         “A reporter from a major American news corporation was arrested yesterday after
comments made over the air triggered riots in at least seventeen US cities; her words have
been publicly condemned by the by broadcasting company in question who state that in these
difficult times sensationalism was not the way to go, that a balance of truth and maintaining
public order was necessary. This stance has triggered much discussion both online and
offline due to apparent disparity with pre-Disclosure attitudes.
         The editor responsible for allowing the comments to be broadcast has been
suspended.”


Thirty-One

         “We have ion range!”
         “Commence firing,” Jones barked in reply, pushing forward into the seats four point
restraints as he gazed hard at the bright, golden shapes on the screen in front of him.
         He felt the ship shudder slightly, he waited a beat, then the shudder again and again
and again, a beat apart each time. Bright, dazzling pulses of light connected Britannica to the
lead Ha’tak for a moment, pulsing across the gap between the ships ten times before the ships
main weapon fell silent.
         The Ha’tak, its shields utterly wasted fell back, large sections of the hull going dark,
except for the fading, energetic flares of the ion bolts.
         “Shift gauss fire, finish the bastard off,” Jones barked, his eyes darting across the
display, catching the sudden hesitation of the remaining five Goa’uld warships and then their
sudden decisiveness. You could practically see the moment they suddenly decided Britannica
was a bigger threat then she looked and that they would have to deal with her first.
         Should have figured that out ages ago, it wasn’t as if the ships Gauss rifles hadn’t
been giving them enough hell, would have been giving them even more hell if they had any
Naquadah tipped projectiles left to use in the front batteries.
         The Ha’tak shuddered abruptly, and then began to shatter and Captain Jones grimaced
as life signs appeared outside the vessels hull.
         Too bad.
         The ship began to shudder once more, irregularly, sharply.
         Incoming fire, not outbound this time.
         He grinned tightly as he saw the Ha’taks move to envelope his ship, two on his port,
one on his starboard and the other two trying to keep the rest of the fleet out of the way and
busy for the moment.


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         “Helm, on my command, slew the ship around 90 degrees, I want those Ha’taks on
our port put dead ahead, and that lone wolf to starboard put right in the crosshairs of the stern
chasers.”
         Not that two Gauss rifles would kill a Ha’tak on their own but they would certainly
know they had been tapped. The guys in front on the other hand…
         “Load the last of the missiles forward.”
         Of course, it would put them right in the middle of the enemies firing arcs and all
three of the ships were likely to give them hell… but they would give hell right back, special
delivery and all.
         He let his eyes dance across the ships status displays, the ships shields were being
eroded fast. They would have to be reformed soon, but the easiest thing to switch off to save
enough energy to reform the shields was the ion canon.
         Decisions, decisions… it would have to wait.
         A beep sounded from the tactical display and he let himself smirk as a Ha’tak
vanished from the display, Searcher and the battered but unbeaten Persephone claiming the
kill.
         Two down.
         The Minbari… they were keeping back out of the fight, covered the crippled and
useless Overseer. Given their desperate lack of shields, he really couldn’t think of much
better for them to do unless it got desperate. Something would have to be done… later of
course.
         He felt a surge throughout the ship, a heavy, abruptly cut of whine and the harsh
squealing of manoeuvring thrusters overload alarms.
         He glanced directly forward at the screen which was permanently linked to cameras at
the front of the hull. He saw harsh lit yellow bolts impacting the shields, the energy rippling
across, warping and nearly tearing the energy fields.
         The ship grumbled, shuddered and he glanced down at the tactical display, sighing
irritated as the last of the missiles cells flicked to black, empty, just three racing towards a
Ha’tak, chasing the bolts of ionic energy and of Gauss rifle fire already impacting on the
enemy shields.
         The missiles impacted, and three seconds later the Ha’tak vanished but he wasn’t
given time to celebrate or give new orders as Britannica herself heaved, a sudden sharp flare
of heat alerting to a fire right behind him.
         The ships status displays blanked, then the main screen in front, smoke billowing
from the relay box at the side. He grabbed for the oxygen bottle attached to his leg, expecting
for the room to be filled with CO2 at any moment, smothering the fire but there was no
distinctive rush of gas into the room.
         Then the lights went out and except for the light of the fire and the faint chemical
glow of the emergency direction strips at his feet, the room was plunged into darkness.
         “Oh shit,” Jones muttered, diving for the door, hoping the auxiliary control had taken
over for the moment.

        “Well, I’ve had the survivors of 587 Squadron folded into 675. That gives us one
complete Lancer Solar squadron,”
        Peters nodded, acknowledging the move, “good idea. With the bottleneck in Lancer
production and the remaining uncertainty regarding their future I doubt we would have been
able to obtain enough replacement birds to get both squadrons back operational.”
        “That’s why. If 767 OTU had any Lancer Solars I would have grabbed those too but
all they have is Lancer Alphas and Interstellars,” Lieutenant Colonel Billingsgate, “frankly,
I’d love to know what you’re going to do with the Lancers long term.”


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         Peters quirked and eyebrow at the subtle probing from the marine pilot, “well, that all
depends on how the mark 3 turns out.”
         “Yea, the mark 2’s didn’t do so well, did they?”
         “Neither did your Air Forces attempts at refitting Udajeet into useful fighters,” she
shot back.
         “True,” he grinned, “was kinda stupid wasn’t it?”
         “Only because then they didn’t know what they were doing,” Peters replied, “but
then, we’re working on the same thing for the Free Jaffa right now.”
         “True,” he shrugged, leaning backwards in his seat, pencil end resting against his
chin, “but it still isn’t much to defend a planet, we need more fighters.”
         “We need more everything,” came the dry reply, “but I would say just two fully
operational squadrons in the system is a bit low, doubly so when the Colonials could recall
their Blue Squadron at any time.”
         “Well, I want to recall a squadron from Edonia,”
         Peters frowned, “that’s not a location we can reinforce in a hurry if anyone seriously
decides to go for it.”
         “The surrounding Nebula works very much in our favour there,” Billingsgate
responded, “but still, three fully operational squadrons and a part is the largest concentration
of our fighter’s full stop.”
         “Forget 649 Squadron,” Peters noted, “they’ve already been recalled to Earth to
regroup. Too much work getting replacement birds to Edonia with everything else we have to
shift out so they’re coming back with the empty freighters.”
         “That’ll help,” Billingsgate nodded, “but they won’t be available for a while even
when they do get home. Given how long they’ve been out there you know the Squadron will
have a crapload of leave time waiting.”
         “And well deserved too, but I don’t think we can strip Edonia. Sol and Alpha can at
least reinforce each other relatively swiftly should the need arise, Edonia doesn’t have that
ability and their defensive grid is as marginal as Earths! Frankly, I worry that even with three
squadrons, three warships and a Motor Torpedo Boat squadron that we don’t have enough
covering that blasted gateway.”
         Billingsgate raised a mildly disbelieving eyebrow and Peters snorted, “We are talking
about the destruct switch for at least two universes and quite probably more if that thing goes
to hell. Its no wonder Anubis has only probed it since we grabbed it off him; he has to know
enough to be worried we would blow it to stop him controlling it.”
         “I hope we would,” it was Billingsgate’s turn to be dry.
         “I hope we don’t,” Peters retorted, “I’ve read more on the gateway then you and
definitely enough to be afraid.”
         “Okay,” he grimaced, “but back to the original point…”
         “The point is, we need more Squadrons,” he was bluntly interrupted, “right now,
every squadron we have everywhere is overdue to be rotated out of immediate combat zones
for leave and recreation but we don’t have the spare squadrons to arrange a proper rotation
schedule and that’s seriously screwing with the readiness and capability of the squadrons.”
         “Agreed, so, how are we going to get them?”
         “This is the eternal bane of command rank,” Peters chuckled, “we can’t get them.
Don’t have the money or personnel. Only way to get them would be to divert funds and
personnel from other equally important projects.”
         “Either that or increase the funding,”
         “Not really our choice,” she shrugged, “we have to do our best with what the civilian
governments choose to give us. Sweden joining will help but what, it’ll be four months



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absolute minimum before the treat details are finalised and they sign. Then, they have to read
it into law and treaties do still fail at that point…”
         “What about decreasing our reliance on Earth for essential supplies and materials,
getting themselves offworld?”
         “Being worked on, but Gaia is pretty much the entire capital expenditure budget at
the moment.”
         “Trade?”
         “Is going well with the Free Jaffa right now, the Tok’ra… well, they are pretty much a
resentful asset of the Intel boys as it stands. There is no-one else where we could just trade, I
mean, most of the allies are either to far away to make it realistic or are too primitive for most
of our needs.”
         Billingsgate sighed, “I can see why a lot of the press think you’re a pretty negative
person, but its not negativity is it?”
         “Realism,” she replied softly, “right now we’re skimming very close to collapsing in
on ourselves, trying to do too much with far too little and failing because of it.”
         “Well,” Billingsgate shuddered, “there are two trade partners you haven’t considered.
They’re not to far away and they definitely aren’t to primitive.”
         Peters took one look at his expression, “I’m not going to like this, am I?”
         He nodded, “Maktenos for one.”
         “Jesus!” Peters slammed upwards in her seat, “are you out of your fucking gourd?!”
         “Quite possibly,” he shrugged, “he is an arse and not someone you like as a
neighbour. Frankly, he should be in a straightjacket, he’s unstable. But, twisted as it is, if we
can get the ceasefire changed, make if official instead of merely defacto then maybe, just
maybe we have a shot at a peace treaty.”
         “And a peace treaty means a possibility for trade treaties… one step at a time…”
Peters shook her head wonderingly, “I imagine that will cost us a lot, one way or another.”
         “But it would be worth it.”
         Peters snorted, “The only trouble would be getting the politicians to realise that, to a
point; he can be trusted. If we can get them to understand that…”
         “Then they will jump at the chance to reduce the threats we need to worry about, as
might Maktenos. He has to be pretty pissed at the havoc the SG teams are causing in his
dominion.”
         “I can’t believe I’m considering this,” she shook her head in disbelief, “but you said
two options…”
         “Yes,” he paused and that pause in itself told Peters a lot.
         “Come on,” she shook her head, “it can’t be as bad as suggesting peace with a
Goa’uld can it?”
         “The Unforgiven.”
         “Bastard.”


Thirty-Two

        Jones grimaced as he darted into the auxiliary control, his eyes tracking across the
room for a moment as he tried to find the main ships status and tactical displays. Mentally, he
cursed himself, he really should learn the layout of the room better, try to get it so he could
find his way by instinct as well as he did the main bridge. In any situation where you had to
use this room, well, the situation was already screwed and being slow to respond, having to
search for controls and displays could only make it worse.
        Next time perhaps.


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        Assuming of course there was a next time.
        The ship rocked under his feet and he dropped into his seat, hands diving unseen
towards the restraints as he finally found the two displays.
        His first thought was ‘oh shit’ followed by a distinct urge to curse out loud. It was
definitely tempting… but not the time for such histrionics. Not with a massive hole where
one of the sublight engines used to be. That was going to make manoeuvring a bitch.
        His eyes darted towards the tactical display, one more Ha’tak down, only two left but
Searcher had fallen back and was flagged as having had its shields reduced to near
nothingness. They would be trying to reconstitute those no doubt, something that would leave
them critically vulnerable for nearly two minutes. Definitely something to move away from
the fight to deal with…
        Two bastards left, Britannica not capable of manoeuvring worth a damn, Searcher
temporarily out of the fight, Overseer well out of it, Persephone and Invincible left… Not
good enough, not good enough by far.
        The big question still unanswered too, the enemy hadn’t contacted them which for
Goa’uld or Jaffa was strange, the vessels were upgraded but nothing about the upgrades or
the manner in which they moved screamed Anubis or Maktenos.
        Balls, whilst it might be helpful to know, that was really a question for the after action
review.
        “Signal Persephone and Invincible, tell ‘em to try and pull one of those bastards into
our forward firing arcs.”
        Of course, if the unknowns had any sense, they might realise that was something to
avoid, but nevertheless, they had to try something.
        “And find out exactly what manoeuvring capability we have left!”
        Rather suspected it wouldn’t be a good idea to order a sharp turn and have the rear
half of the ship fall off after all…
        The ships status display bleeped and he glanced across to see both rear Gauss rifles
turn black, marked only by the icon for an engineering override not an automatic detection.
        No rear guns, just half the pulse lasers left, weakened shields forward, nothing to the
stern, damaged engines but hey at least all guns forward were still working right?
        The display bleeped once more and long tom vanished.
        Or not, okay, why did they take away my ion cannon?
        He tapped at this console and swiftly discovered that power had been diverted to the
rear shields. They were going to try for a reformation in the middle of a fight?
        Well, okay, but they should have commed him first before taking long tom away.
        “Invincible seems to be leading one of the Ha’taks into our forward arcs,”
        Jones nodded, timing wasn’t so great with only four Gauss rifles to fire but still, it
would have to do. He glanced across at the tactical officer, frowning for a moment at the
unfamiliar face but then he saw the Overseer ship patch. A tactical officer wasn’t much use
onboard a ship that was reduced to only pulse lasers.
        “Co-ordinate an alpha strike with Invincible,”
        Not really as if there was any other order he could give after all.
        The lights dimmed, and stayed that way for ten seconds, then the tactical display
bleeped once more.
        Rear shields at 63% and power being shunted back to the ion cannon.
        Somebody in engineering was keeping an eye on the sensors, hell; somebody in
engineering was bucking for promotion. Wasn’t usual for power to be shunted form
reconstituting shields until the job was done after all, but it gave him his ion cannon back and
that had the greatest train of all his guns.



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        He glanced at the tactical officer once more, cutting him off before he started to
speak, “give ‘em hell.”
        The ion cannon fired, the Ha’tak already trying to shift course to avoid the bolts, no
doubt having picked up the weapon coming back online again but even with powerful drives
mass and momentum still ruled.
        The ship flew straight into the bolts and died before the gauss rifles could take aim.
        One left.
        A glance at the tactical display and a grin, Searcher and Persephone both pounding
the remaining ship, Searchers shields also only partially reconstituted, Invincible darting
across to assist, that shouldn’t take too long.
        The Ha’tak abruptly stopped firing, then, a few moments later, dropped its shields.
        No that didn’t take too long at all. Now they just needed to know who the bastards
are.

        “You’re in a good mood,” O’Neill commented, a little warily as Lord Holmes strode
into his office.
        “Well,” the Governor General of Alpha Prime responded, “I’ve been a little busy on
the old boy’s network as it were.”
        “Oh?” he leaned back in his seat, regarding the man in front. O’Neill knew he was a
competent man, and had proven himself capable of juggling all the chores that literally
running a planet dropped into his lap but he also knew he could be stubborn, pigheaded and
even a little evil minded at times.
        In fact he occasionally reminded him of himself and that alone was reason enough to
never quite trust the man.
        “Had a word with our Prime Minister who had a word with your President and they
both then ganged up on the Swedes,”
        O’Neill considered this for all of two seconds, “nothing to put them off I hope…”
        “Definitely not,” Holmes shrugged, “but it served two goals. One, who got to confirm
how confident the Swedes are about entering the alliance and well, they seem to be
committed and two, well, how quickly can you get the main guns off of the Cheops and made
safe?”
        He received a shrug in response, “the geeks say three months but the work crews say
two.”
        “The Swedes forked out the money to cover the expected costs for design of a
weapons platform to mount one of those babies over Gaia and with a little over for
construction. Not enough to cover full construction costs but anything we can save on the
design phase, we can use on construction.”
        O’Neill grinned, and turned his display around; revealing a set of schematics that
weren’t quite for a type III defensive satellite, “meet the type IIIc. Kalinda cooked it up
whilst she was on her way back from Chocky’s homeworld last time. It’s being reviewed by
the other geeks right now.”
        Holmes found his jaw dropping, and then he laughed, “Nice timing that lady! That’s a
big saving right there then, modifying an existing design and the rest… still don’t have
enough to cover the construction costs though.”
        “No,” O’Neill considered this for a moment, “but the Cheops herself will give us the
bulk of the materials we’ll need. Trinium, armour, shields… the bulk of the costs will come
from shifting the parts to Sol, those parts that can only come from Earth, personnel and
support craft time.”
        “Won’t the Cheops shields be a little overkill on a design that small?”



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        “No, first they’re an older design even by Goa’uld standards so not as strong as what
their capital ships are using at the moment but secondly, it gives the station extra options.
They can compress the shields around the station reducing the area they cover to give them
more strength or expand them around objects they might need protecting.”
        “Such as the support craft during the Gaia construction,” Holmes nodded, “makes
sense.”
        “I’m more worried about the station having the power for everything,”
        “Forward the question to Kalinda and the other design teams then,” the Governor
responded, “but I don’t see it being that difficult to add more generators.”
        “You haven’t had to try obtaining spares for those zero point extractors recently. It
was bad enough getting some of the metals before disclosure but they’re…” O’Neill stopped,
momentarily lost for words.
        “I would suggest you grab at least one of those guns yourself though,”
        His eyebrows rose surprised, and then dropped, considering the idea, “parts.”
        “Quite,” Holmes replied, “this station does still use a large number of Goa’uld heavy
weapons after all and the ship does have four of them.”
        “Maybe,” he responded, “but I think I need to make a few calls.”


Thirty-Three

        Murielle woke slowly, her body aching with familiar aches, familiar pains.
        Unwanted pains.
        The smell of the hospital filled her noise and she groaned; shaking her head as she
carefully opened her eyes, squinting into the overly bright lights.
        Her only real thought being ‘not again’ before it was swept aside a few confused,
groggy moments by ‘did my people get out alive?’ and then, finally, ‘did we succeed?’
        She took in the room at a glance, small, well equipped, no windows which was
unusual though not unheard off. Definitely a private room though. Whose private room
though?
        She had woken up like this in unfriendly hands before and she knew not to take
anything for granted. The clock above the door a standard, earth analogue set which she took
as a good clue, wherever she was, they either knew a hell of a lot about Earth or they were of
Earth themselves.
        Then she felt a familiar, highly irritating sensation down below and knew that
wherever she was, they dealt with an age old problem of hospitals the same way they did on
Earth.
        She glanced across, then frowning; she took a very careful look at the various bits of
equipment throughout the room. It was all either integral to the room or very firmly attached.
Bolts, straps, lots of what appeared to be dedicated attachment points in the walls.
        Even in a major earthquake zone they didn’t take this many precautions against
equipment moving, which meant a ship or station. That reduced the likely possibilities
somewhat…
        And whilst a lot of the equipment was modified, it was clearly meant for humans. The
question was simple, was this a wet-navy ship or vacuum-navy?
        Vacuum navy didn’t necessarily mean friendly, it wasn’t as if the Chinese had any
reason to like her after all, exactly the opposite in fact, but it did reduce the possibilities
somewhat. Wet-navy didn’t feel right, they didn’t tend to have quite such sophisticated
equipment and besides, private cubicles aboard ship, even dedicated hospital ships were not
common.


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        Not, this was a vacuum-navy ship, but whose?
        Then, a glint out of the corner of the eye made her turn, and she saw a large, sealed
bottle of cherry liquor tied with a blue bow. Answered that one, wherever she was, the old
fart knew about it.
        There was a letter there too, in a script she had not seen in years and she paused a
moment, the writing was familiar but not quite… then she sighed. Admiral Winters, his
writing must just be getting more crabbed with age. She hadn’t even been aware that he knew
about the project.
        Then again, perhaps he didn’t need to; Thompson could have told his old boss about it
then dropped the letter off at the same time he did the bottle.
        She reached under the pillow, knowing there would be a call button there somewhere
but she never got a chance to press it, a tall nurse walking briskly into the room, a quick
glance outside of the swiftly closing door revealing a least one soldier standing guard outside
the door.
        Grimacing, she lay back down again, knowing that this was going to be fun.
        She knew there was a reason she hated hospitals and that reason was nurses and
catheters…

        “Mercenaries,” Thompson commented flatly, annoyed, his expression grim, “the 1st
Battlegroup lost another forty souls to mercenaries?”
        “From the report we received via the Stargate, yes sir, it does appear that way,”
replied the tall, svelte brunette in front of the desk, her manner screaming competent, self-
assured, and her badge proclaiming her to be seconded from the CIA.
        “Blast,” he replied angrily, slamming his hand down on the desk, winching at the
screech the collapsible metal monstrosity made as it scraped for a second across the desk.
        He hated that sound, too much like nails on a blackboard, he hated that more of the
people he was responsible for were dead and he hated that one of his oldest friends was once
in the hospital because of him, just a few rooms away.
        He hated that he didn’t quite understand this new threat too.
        “Do we know who they were working for?”
        “That wasn’t in the report sent through,” she shrugged, “but what was made clear was
that this group was unusually well equipped…”
        “Six Ha’taks?” Thompson snorted, and then waved the analyst on.
        She inclined her head at him, acknowledging the point, “not just in number and scale
of the ships used, but also in the technology present. These ships were upgraded and using a
curious mixture of technologies from most of the known factions, Maktenos, Anubis, a few
Cylon pieces and some of ours.”
        The Admiral considered this for a moment, and then grimly stated “I really need to
read that report.”
        “I’ll have a complete copy forwarded immediately,”
        “Okay,” Thompson replied, thinking furiously, “you were certainly right to bring this
to my attention. I have to clear it with Intel but set up a new desk, you and perhaps three
others for the moment. Your responsibility is to trace this new mercenary company and find
out everything you can. Usual reporting procedure, but liaise with internal security as well.
Finding out how they got hold of any of our tech could be quite important.”
        “Of course Sir,”
        He nodded, dismissing her, but glanced up momentarily puzzled as she reached the
door, “your name?”
        “Tessa Hammond.”
        He felt his eyebrow rising in mild surprise.


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       “My grandfather,” she confirmed, before walking swiftly out of the room.
       Thompson found himself chuckling for a moment as she left, but soon sobered
glancing around his temporary office. The nurse would be by soon to tell her she had finished
with Murielle, she had better be.

        “Tensions between the Tau’ri Star Service and the People’s Liberation Army, Space
of China as terms for a cooperation agreement between the two services was finally reached
granting the Tau’ri Star Service a certain degree of control over the actions of the warship
and any others they might construct and providing an avenue for co-operation in exchange
for bringing the Chinese up to date on technologies and equipment procured or created by
quasi-military organisation.
        The previous contract amounted to little more then a agreement not to attack each
other or directly interfere in each others missions.”

         “Jubilation at Cape Canaveral today as the Paladin yards goes online. The new
construction facility, which initially will only build the Paladin support craft, has successfully
secured the historic facility and the thousands of jobs it represents against collapse in the
face of the far more advanced and capable craft produced by the old Stargate Command and
its British counterpart, the Royal Star Service.
         Its expected that the economics of scale and mass production will reduce the per craft
cost by perhaps as much as ten percent once all the production lines go online.
         The production lines for the Airhead and Shunter craft are expected to go online
within the next several months, no exact date has been released as yet but it will not be the
only major construction going on here.
         Several older buildings within the complex are already being redeveloped to
construct smaller satellites such as the Firebird or Type II defensive satellites. This will be the
first true mass production facility for satellites.
         As to the old complexes for minor warcraft and satellite construction, it has been
confirmed that most of these will be partially mothballed, ready should Cape Canaveral be
taken out to resume their old jobs once more.
         Some, such as the St Athan hangers will return to their old jobs of prototype
construction and repair work.”

        “Terror struck this sleepy little town in Alabama today as an American starfighter, an
F-302 of the Tau’ri Star Service crashed into the town’s main street, tossing cars and debris
everywhere and demolishing shops. In one case, a car near to the initial impact was struck by
the fighter and tossed over a two story general store into the gardens behind, gardens which
luckily were unoccupied at the time.
        Nevertheless, the death toll has already hit thirteen and is expected to continue to
climb.
        There has not yet been any report from Earthforce regarding the cause of this
accident.”

        “Boeing issued a statement today officially announcing its intention to start design
work on aircraft and even spacecraft using technologies so far restricted to the Tau’ri Star
Service.
        This construction will be closely watched and monitored by the military given the
highly controlled nature of most of the technologies in use but Boeing feels, it if can find an
operator, that civilian flights can be operated safely between Earth and the Alpha Centauri
system.


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        It is rumoured at least three of the surviving airlines and two shipping conglomerates
have already expressed an interest in what is likely to be a costly and time-consuming
project.”


Thirty-Four

         “So, how do we do this?”
         “Carefully,” Peters replied dryly, “this needs to be an effective group but we cant
compromise home defence to build it.”
         Thompson snorted, “Whatever happens, home defence isn’t going to be a strong as I
would like.”
         “Still,” Peters tapped at her display, “Atlantis for the number one slot obviously.”
         “That has been the original intention since we knew we were going to get her,” he
replied, “no change there,”
         “How many ships from the original group will we be able to use?” O’Neill asked, for
once not joining the meeting by transmission but actually being present in the room.
         “None,” Peters shrugged, “I don’t know the full extent of the damage, we only have
what has been reported and the yards boys always find something the crews missed but four
of the ships are going to be in the yards for quite some time. Persephone needs a hyperdrive
replacement and that is definitely not a quick job, Overseer… well, she may well take even
longer. The only one that doesn’t appear to need a major refit is Searcher but she will still
need some yard time and even though we will be rotating a good proportion of the crew out I
still think she should be kept home for a while before a new long term deployment.”
         “And the Ha’tak they captured is going to need the once over too,” O’Neill grimaced,
“already got Intel clamouring for access,”
         “You do intend to allow that?”
         “Of course,” he replied, sending Peters a mildly affronted look, “but I’m not going to
allow them to tear her apart. She’s not an Anubis level Ha’tak but she’s better then a standard
and that means she usable without much refitting. Strip the gold, replace with armour where
necessary, and add some pulse laser batteries then rest boils down to fittings.”
         “Quite,” Thompson replied agreeably, “Now Indomitable may be bringing the most
fatigued crew back from Minbari Alliance territory but they still need to be rotated out too,
not to mention the ships in action against the Aschen with that Alliance,”
         “We don’t have ships to rotate them all and create a battlegroup,” Peters noted.
         “Not at once no, certainly,” he replied, “but nonetheless, in both cases they have been
deployed for quite a while and crew and ship both need some TLC.”
         “The longest trip is to Minbari alliance space,” O’Neill pointed out, “but not much
time difference between the two deployments.”
         “Well, its three ships in Vulcan space, Devonshire, Endeavour and Dawn of Justice,
that’s a Dauntless, a Prometheus and a Maktenos type Ha’tak,” Peters shrugged, pulling the
ships reports on her screen then sending them across the screen onto the massive flat-screen
mounted against one wall of the briefing room,”
         “And in Minbari space?”
         “Four now, Interrogator, Prometheus herself, Independence and Dawn of Valour,”
again, she sent the ships stats onto the flat-screen monitor, “one Dauntless, two Prometheus
and another Maktenos type Ha’tak.”
         “We don’t have enough ships to rotate all of those about,” Thompson groaned.
         “And both groups screaming for reinforcements,” O’Neill noted.



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        “Don’t have the crew, don’t have the ships,” Peters commented dryly, a glint of
humour appearing in here eyes, “if you can’t take a joke…”
        Thompson chuckled and O’Neill grinned, both mentally adding ‘you shouldn’t have
joined’ to the age old saw.
        “But the ship situation will ease within the week,” she added, “Latest report from
Edonia crossed my desk just before I came down, Potemkin and Peter the Great are set to
launch within the week.”
        “Dauntless I’s?” O’Neill asked.
        “Indeed,” Thompson nodded, “but we are talking about a month of shakedown time
before they’re considered operational.”
        “Most of which they cant do in Edonia due to the relatively confined nature of the
location, so after passing safety and the spacesafe designations they’ll join the next freighter
home.”
        “Have one work up in Alpha Centuari, one in Sol,” the aging General mused,
“releasing one Dauntless from each.”
        “That means General Hammond and Stingray and the latter is a type II,” Peters
shrugged, “no other Dauntless class ships assigned to home defence at the moment.”
        O’Neill looked vaguely pensive at this, “that’s not funny.”
        “No, its not. But personnel and money are stopping the navy growing as fast as we
need it too,”
        “Not to mention losses, four warships, six patrolcraft, enough fighters to form ten full
squadrons just since Thundersdawn had her keel plate laid, not to mention the SGC’s losses
before that,”
        O’Neill grimaced, grimly acknowledging the point, “I think we need to form five new
patrolcraft squadrons.”
        Peters frowned, “we have eight craft under construction, but three are already
assigned to replacing losses.”
        “Five left to form a new squadron,” Thompson nodded, “any particular reason?”
        “Alliance territory for two, home defence for three,” he leaned back in her chair
sighing, hiding a wince as he realised his leg had started to go dead, “one squadron each for
Babylon’s two and three, reinforce Edonia, Earth and Alpha,”
        “I assume you mean a squadron each,” Thompson groaned, “I can see your point, they
don’t use as much crew as a warship, albeit each crewmember actually has to be more
thoroughly trained and it would increase the tactical flexibility but hell; that puts us back to
money and personnel.”
        “Babylon two is going quicker, the Aschen so far haven’t made a concerted effort to
stop her construction, so she would be ready to take a squadron first.”
        “I don’t think we’ve ‘spent’ the bulk of the resource stockpile the Cheops represents
yet either.”
        “It’s a tempting idea and I thank you for pointing out we need another patrol boat on
the slips to make a full squadron,” Thompson found himself grimacing once more, “but
money and personnel are, as always the issue. Not to mention, I think the new birds have
already been earmarked for home defence.”
        Peters frowned, “they’re proper patrol types not the system defence variants. They
would seem to be a bit of a waste.”
        “Given that we have just one more squadron for Earth and Alpha Centauri it does
make a bit more sense,” Thompson shrugged, “but I do see your point.”
        “Doesn’t solve our main question, the 1st Battlegroup and ensuring ship and crew
rotations,” she replied, trying to bring them back onto the main subject of their meeting.



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         “We can’t do it,” Thompson shook his head, “not yet. Not without cancelling the
battlegroup, because the ships we use for that are the only ones we can use for rotation, we
have what; thirty-one warships total, two more coming shortly but ten of those are in need of
repair or refit. Twenty-one ships we can consider operational and five major defensive points
to cover as well as the reformation of our only offensive taskforce.”
         The room fell quiet for almost five minutes as this was digested and flaws searched
for in its logic.
         “Then we need to increase the number of support ships we have so we can at least
ensure the supply of parts and personnel to deployed ships,” O’Neill finally continued, then
grinned wryly, “whoops, don’t have the money or personnel for that do we?”
         “Well,” Thompson shrugged, “we have Gaia funded, we have the type IIIa defensive
platform under construction and the funding for the type IIIc is now in the bag. The support
craft yard at Cape Canaveral has come online and there is a plant for type I and II defensive
satellites coming online. There are seven new warships on the way and two refits as well as
enough patrol boats to bring the existing squadrons to strength and start a new squadron. We
have enough shipyard space free that we can send all the ships of the battlegroup straight into
refit for a quick turn-around. The situation is not as bad as it could be.”
         “You forgot two,” Peters noted, “the Swedes are in and the upcoming budget review
from home which from what I have heard from the PM actually looks a little promising.”
         “Well, it might be worth asking Davis to get his team working on ‘borrowing’ some
more Tel’tacs,”
         Peters pursed her lips, “capture missions are always more risky then simple destroy
but we only have two at the moment and we can certainly use more. I think it’s a good idea
General.”
         “I’ll speak with Davis,” Thompson agreed, tapping a note into his PDA.
         “And once more back to the question…” O’Neill grinned.
         “Well, we have Atlantis and given that we have ruled out a rotation at the moment,
that means we can also add in General Hammond and Stingray to start.”
         “I see,” Thompson sighed, “I’m not sure a lot of people will be happy with replacing
two veteran ships with two green crews still on their shakedown,”
         “Both of those ships have been on home defence for a while,” Peters shrugged, “a
change can sometimes be as good as a rest.”
         “True,”
         “There is Seeker…”
         Frowning, Thompson considered this, “that’s a Sentinel refit…”
         “There were two in the original formation and both did well enough apparently, will
only leave five fully operational warships guarding Earth but Searcher isn’t supposed to be in
the body and fender shop long,”
         “That’s only four ships still,” O’Neill noted, frowning, “Peters, can you put the
complete shiplist on the screen?”
         She nodded and tapped at her console for a moment then the main display flashed for
just a moment.
         “Oh fuck,” O’Neill commented, after gazing at the screen for a few moments, “we
don’t have anything else do we?”
         “No,” Peters sighed, “I don’t think we do.”


Thirty-Five




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        “The return of the 1st Battlegroup was confirmed by the Tau’ri Star Service today, the
battered vessels, who had been involved in numerous battles and skirmishes with Goa’uld
forces are due for major repair and renewal work following what had undoubtedly a hard
fought campaign at great remotes.
        The surviving crew, we have been informed, are now in being debriefed and checked
over by medical and we should expect them to be released to their families over the next
fortnight.
        A new memorial is already being constructed at St Athans to the one-hundred and
ninety personnel who died during this operation.”

         “Amateur astronomers on the ground have reported seeing unusual blue-grey ships
reported to be vaguely fish-shaped in configuration in the vicinity of Mars. Whilst the
military has confirmed the presence of allied vessels in the star system, so far no information
has been released regarding the nature of these allies.
        Nonetheless, given the timing, it is safe to assume they were the ‘escort’ given to the
1st Battlegroup on their return from alliance space.”

        “The Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed the defacto budget which had been
operating since Disclosure. This diverted all funds from improvement works and new
construction into rebuilding and reconstruction and whilst reviled by many has been
generally accepted as a necessity in these dark times. This, which is the first official budget
since the events of last year, also allocates more money towards the Tau’ri Star Service, but
not as much as many analysts had expected.”

       “A second Chinese Prometheus? That’s the rumour today as the Tau’ri Star Service
confirms technical experts have been deployed to a classified location on the Chinese
mainland. The Chinese are the only nation known to have an operational independent
shipyard.”

       “The value of gold suffered a mild drop today as one-hundred bars of gold were
placed on the market by Earthforce with confirmation that more would follow gradually.
        This act of somewhat blatant fund-raising by the military uses gold stripped from
captured Goa’uld ships.”

       “The British Government has today blocked the script of Dauntless!, a film covering
the short but proud history of the first warship of the old Royal Star Service citing security
concerns, a move which has been backed by the United States.”

        “The formation of a fifth squadron of patrol craft has been confirmed by sources
within the Tau’ri Star Service. Though this has not yet been announced officially, it is well
know that there are eight of these minor warcraft nearing completion but only three needed
to replace operational losses.
        What has been confirmed is the order for another craft, of the Blastboat MTB class,
which I would note, when constructed would be enough to bring the new squadron to full
strength.”

        “An attempt by the militant ‘War First’ group to seize control over the Earthforce
base at Manston was repelled with heavy loss of life today. The facility, which houses the 1st
Motor Torpedo Boat squadron as well as two spacefighter squadrons has seen multiple



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attempts to breech its perimeter and as such has rapidly become one of the most heavily
defended bases on British soil.
       It’s believed the leader of the group, the self-styled Cain and Abel managed to evade
capture.”

        “Jubilation today as the Exeter Exclusion Zone, centred on the cathedral city which
was so callously destroyed using a dirty nuclear device by the Cylons shrunk for the first
time, an area the size of Manhattan Island being opened to the public once more.
        The area, whose radioactivity has already spread across the channel, rendering some
areas of Normandy uninhabitable as well, has been the subject of clean-up operations being
carried out by three Beliskner class vessels of the Asgard.
        The exclusion zone is still under strict security however as the military attempt to
reduce any threats to the clean-up vessels.”

       “Rumours of construction orders from Earths allies have been denied by the Tau’ri
Star Service today who insist that, with the return of the 1st Battlegroup, there is not enough
space available for new construction and few, if any of their allies who are actually capable
of supporting warships would need Earth constructed vessels, having access to their own.
       It is true that most of the allies contacted by Earth are too primitive to support space
going vessels of any kind on their own, but a few, such as the Orbanians are not only capable
of supporting spacefaring vessels but have provided vital technologies to Earth and as yet, do
not have any confirmed vessels of their own.”

       “The first segments of the rebuilt Stargate Command went online today, allowing
research personnel back into the mountain once more. The facility, which was severely
damaged during Disclosure, is still in the process of reconstruction and the Stargate itself
has not yet been returned to its home.”

        “A move has been placed before congress to change the dating system from the
standard AD, anno domini system used currently to a new, PD, Post-Disclosure dating.
        The move is widely expected to fail, however it is considered unlikely that the idea
will leave the public consciousness. Indeed, it might not happen yet, but it is entirely possible
that, sometime in the future, the dates will change.”

       “Hector Jones goes to court today as his extradition hearing is finally heard. Mr
Jones has been formally accused of having committed several rapes of civilians from the
Colonial Remnant whilst acting as a construction foreman on Freedom.
       This is the first major judicial incident involving the Colonial Remnant since they
were granted a new homeworld by the old Stargate Command and Royal Star Service.”

         “Damn, will I be glad when Gaia goes online,” Joan laughed, glancing across at
Hammond, “but, are they serious?”
         “They are,” he sighed, leaning back in his seat and trying to ignore the painful twinge
in his side, “I am inclined to say yes to this request, they are the ones who gave us the
naquadah generator technology and we have never had any indication that they can not be
trusted.”
         “Plus, their location,”
         The aging General nodded at Commander Williams, “That has to play a part; they are
very close to Anubis’es territory. They have the infrastructure; they could make a useful ally,
a very useful base. We could use this.”


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        “Increases the threat to them,” she shrugged, “but given their location and the fact that
their technology base makes them both a threat and potentially useful to Anubis, I would say
they were already threatened.”
        He sighed, leaning backwards in his seat, “quite, but we can’t do this for them. We
don’t have the resources, thanks largely to Jack; we still have a lot of goodwill we can use to
ensure a fair deal but…”
        “They want warships; they will need to pay,” Joan grimaced, “at least we have
precedent on our side,”
        “Not exactly, both the Colonials and the Free Jaffa already had space flight and
warships, they had crossed that bridge. They just needed an upgrade, with the Orbanians, we
would have to give them the capability and that is why a number of the more conservative
elements are balking.”
        “I don’t agree,” shrugging, she glanced pensively out of the window, her eyes
tracking an F-302 as it launched, “but I do understand. Bluntly, I think we owe them and I
rather think we wouldn’t want Anubis to seize control of Orban.”
        “If they became active militarily, he is more likely to take notice,”
        “And if they don’t, if Anubis moves against them they don’t stand a chance,”
        “I agree,” Hammond sighed once more, “but again, we have quite a few fires to deal
with as it is. I’m just glad this isn’t going to be my decision anymore.”
        Joan glanced across sharply, “oh?”
        “The decommissioning of Stargate Command was supposed to be a quiet assignment,
a last post before retirement. That was sixteen years ago and whilst I have few regrets, its
time for me to step down.”
        “It won’t be the same without you,” Joan replied finally, “but I will say, what you
brought most to the service was integrity and loyalty.”
         A tear glinted in the corners of his eyes for am moment, “thank you.”
        “Who are you going to push for to replace you?”
        “Paul Davis,”
        “General O’Neill planning his memoirs too?”
        Hammond smiled for a moment, “he’s not, but I am afraid his knee is.”
        “Ahh,” standing up, she formally saluted the General, “don’t forget my invite to your
retirement party,”
        “Of course not,” he assured her as he slowly returned the salute.


Thirty-Six

       “Negotiations between the Tau’ri Star Service and the Space Liner consortium led by
Boeing broke down today as the consortium accused the military of obstructionism and
deliberate sabotage of the space liner project.
       The response from the Tau’ri Star Service was a simple statement that Boeing was
refusing to place adequate measures in place to protect the classified and highly dangerous
technologies the project requires.
       It is well known that Boeing has long known of the Stargate Project and of the
potential value of the technologies the project has control over and more then a handful of
analysts are stating that the consortium may be both getting in over its head and letting its
drool reflex overcome sense.
       Whilst the potential of having the first civilian freighters and liners is enormous and
probably highly lucrative, the risks are equally high as are the costs. No blueprints have yet
been started, but nearly $25 million has already been spent.


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       Quite a considerable sum of money given the recession and the overnight
obsolescence of almost everyone of Boeings previous designs.”

        “Quiet satisfaction at Ravenbright station, the primary outpost in the Alpha Centauri
system, as 617 Squadron officially arrives. The squadron, which has a long and illustrious
history which the Royal Air Force starting with its formation specially for the Dambuster
Raids of the 2nd World War, was the first to be transferred direct from the RAF and only the
second to be equipped with Strikers.
        Strikers, a fighter attack craft, the F/A 18 Hornet of space is a relatively new design
but one which has already proven itself as a very capable warcraft. The first squadron to be
so equipped, 889 already claims three unassisted Ha’tak kills, two of which were for no loss
on the squadron’s part.”

        “The most expensive holiday ever?
        That’s the question on everyone’s lips today as multibillionaire philanthropist Bruce
Wayne takes his leave of work and Earth to journey to The Land of the Light.
        Long term allies, even though technologically backward, the Land of the Light has
often supported Stargate Command missions and has been used on many occasions as a
gathering point for refugees fleeing the Goa’uld conflict.
        Nowadays, a permanent presence is maintained on their world which has recently has
been granted Protectorate status. Nonetheless, this is a world undefended against attacks
from space, not your usual or even safe vacation spot.
        However, it should be quite a unique experience.
        It hasn’t been disclosed exactly how much was paid for the privilege but Mr Wayne
has already confirmed that two trips to the old International Space Station prior to
Disclosure would have been cheaper.”

        “A spokesperson for Ravenbright station has confirmed that the Sentinel refit
destroyer, the Searcher should be released back into operational duties within a fortnight.
The vessel, which suffered least damage during the 1st Battlegroups first deployment, will
then return to Earth to reinforce home defences.”

        “A surprise at the British Young Carer of the Year awards today as the prize winner
got an unexpected ride home.
        But this was no ordinary ride; this was aboard a Paladin of the Tau’ri Star Service.
She was taken on an hour long trip leisurely trip round the moon before being dropped back
off at her Surrey home.
        We have attempted to ask the young lady for a comment but so far, her mind has yet
to follow her body down from the heavens.”

         “For two hours today, both Battlestars, the Galactica of the Colonials and Atlantis,
now controlled by our own Earthforce, were in the skies over Earth as fighters were swapped
between Earth and the Colonials.
         177 ‘Cobra’ Squadron, the first Earth squadron to be formed using Colonial derived
Vipers was finally released from advanced training and was being brought home to Earth for
the first time. This prompted the departure of Blue Squadron which had been temporarily
deployed from their normal base aboard Galactica to reinforce Earths defences.”




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       “Rumours of more support for the Tau’ri Star Service today as high level negotiators
are seen meeting with Spanish officials, no official word has yet been heard from either the
Spanish government or the multinational military force.”

        “Tragedy over Greece today as a British Airways Boeing 747 was shot down by what
is rumoured to have been a Cylon Raider. This further blow to the confidence of the airline
industry comes just weeks after a raid by Secessionist Cylons strafed Tri-Cities Regional
Airport in the US confirming once again how vulnerable these large airliners are to enemy
action.
        So far no survivors have been reported in either incident.”

        “Australia has issued a statement today condemning the Tau’ri Star Service for the
lack of any major defensive bases or equipment in or over the Southern Hemisphere.
Australia, which has been a long term supporter of Earths defences having been an early
funder of the Royal Space Service, has a small training base and R&D facility for the TSS at
RAAF Darwin, a joint military / civilian airfield.
        There are no other Tau’ri Star Service facilities in the Southern Hemisphere.”

        “The Battlestar Atlantis which has now been in service for several months has been
confirmed to lack operational fighter squadrons. The vessel, which is capable of deploying
numerous fighters and support craft was supposed to deploy with two squadrons of fighters
but production delays have left the squadrons a paper shell of personnel and equipment that
is only just beginning to receive its fighters.
        This embarrassing confession from the Tau’ri Star Service is further exasperated by
the fact that both Battlestars lack support craft, having only Paladins for personnel transport
and freight. As yet, no Awacs equivalents or Electronic Warfare craft have been prototyped
in preparation for deployment aboard the capital ships of the Colonial and Earth fleets.”

         “The population of Alpha Prime, Earths Colony in the Alpha Centauri system, broke
the six figure mark today as Mark Meier, a railway engineer and foreman from Canada
became the 100,000 person to colonise the system on a semi-permanent or permanent basis.”

        “The taxman arrived on Alpha Prime today as Lord Holmes officially set the planets
taxes for the first time. Up till now, personnel on the planet had been paying taxes to their
country of origin, a difficult task given the separation between the two star systems.
        The Governor General has already confirmed that any money raised will go straight
into the planets own infrastructure and improvements for the foreseeable future.
        The new tax rules will apply to anyone resident for more then six months on Alpha
Prime.”

        “The launch of five more Type II defensive satellites into Earth orbit has been
confirmed by Earthforce. The new satellites, considered to only truly be effective against
fighters, brings the total number of completed weapons platforms in Earth orbit to forty-five,
no where near enough to provide full coverage but a start at least.”

       “Plans to place Earth to orbit weapons batteries on Earth have been denied by the
Tau’ri Star Service who have stated that no weapons systems exist at the moment for such
work.




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       It is known that the Ion Canon, a weapon based on Tollan technology is capable of
Earth to Orbit fire however what we have not been informed of is whether the aiming and
guidance systems exist for such use.”

        “The Army division of the Tau’ri Star Service unveiled its newest toy today, the
Razor. Based on a reconnaissance tank design, the Razor is intended to act as heavy for
support for both Army and Marine operations through the Stargate. Forgoing conventional
armament, the Razor uses a single pulse laser on a turret mount specially designed to enable
the tank to engage ground and air targets and has two crew.
        More importantly, the design is capable of passing in one piece through the Stargate,
albeit requiring careful handling.
        Reconnaissance tanks have been used for gate operations on several previous
occasions, however this is believed to be the first tank custom designed for the task.”


Thirty-Seven

        “Are you sure?” Peters blurted; more then a little surprised.
        “No,” came the blunt reply, “At this point there is no way to be sure. There are
multiple sources for this information but none of them trustworthy. Nevertheless, the Cylon
Support for Anubis has always been somewhat shaky.”
        “This…” she shook her head, “I was not expecting. Still, your right, it was always a
possibility when they realized how little Anubis cares for his servants, I mean, most of his
Jaffa are mind-wipes anyway now but damn.”
        “Indeed,” Teal’c replied softly, a slight frown on his face as his eyes tracked a
strange, to him unknown, vessel as it passed the windows of the Admirals office.
        Catching his gaze, she turned for a moment then smiled, facing the Jaffa Warrior once
more, “a Minbari Tinashi, effective against unshielded targets such as the Drakh forces which
are now the bulk of Anubis’s forces but vulnerable against shielded vessels or cloaked ones.”
        “Do you intend to upgrade those as well?”
        “No,” Peters replied swiftly, “we don’t have the capacity, just like with the Vulcans
and Andorians, we can teach them a few tricks but they will need to do the work on their
own.”
        “Do you Tau’ri not have a saying, give a man a piscine and he will eat for a day, teach
a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?”
        Her lips quirked upwards, “close enough. Still, the news you have brought is
promising. If the Loyalists have truly broken with Anubis…”
        “They’re ships are the best of all the Cylons,” he noted, “but they are far from
numerous.”
        “And like us they will now be in a multi-front war, except Anubis is going to be
holding a grudge because they not just defied him but turned traitor as well.”
        “Perhaps,”
        “You don’t think so?”
        “I do,” Teal’c nodded slightly, “but if they truly had the sense to break with Anubis
then no doubt they will have sense enough to flee far from his territories, find a new
homeworld and begin rapid rebuilding and settlement projects.”
        “Just as Ba’al has done,”
        He inclined his head in mild acknowledgement of the comparison, “most likely.”
        “Still,” the Admiral mused, “it’s never wise to count all your chickens before they are
hatched. We need confirmation, and even if we get that, we know Anubis liked what Iblis


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created with the cylons. He may just make his own, more loyally programmed. I would
certainly expect him to use the lessons from the Cylons in producing newer, better warships.”
        “He may already have done so,”
        Peters raised an eyebrow, “oh?”
        “A rumour, nothing more, that Anubis has rebuilt his stealth fighters with a fully
integrated organic mind.”
        Groaning, she raised her hand to her forehead, suddenly feeling an intense headache
coming on, “You mean those blasted menaces with keep raiding and probing Edonia?”
        “Quite,”
        “Those blighters outmatch the Lancers and F-302’s one on one as it is. With the
relaxes of a cylon Raider… that’s not a happy thought.”
        Teal’c nodded, agreeing in part, “but to be truly dangerous they would need to be able
to think and if they are able to think, they are potentially a danger to Anubis.”
        “True and he is getting quite wary of most of his servants isn’t he?”
        “With reason,”
        “Quite,” Peters mused for a moment, “I think… it may be time to pay Anubis a wake-
up call.”
        Teal’c turned his gaze fully on Peters, sudden interest glinting at the back of his eyes,
“Find us some thing major to do with those stealth fighters. A production facility, a research
base, anything but preferably something that won’t require a ground assault. I’ll get out Intel
boys and the Tok’ra Remnant on it as well.”
        Teal’c frowned, “Bold and dangerous. You will certainly obtain his interest and his
ire.”
        Peters smiled grimly, “Oh, I think I can arrange a surprise for Anubis. One he won’t
expect.”
        Teal’c raised an eyebrow, turning an inquisitive look at Peters but she just shook her
head then grinned, an evil glint in the corner of her eye.
        “Hell, why not spread the wealth even further. Joint op?”
        “It may be possible,” Teal’c noted, “a direct assault on Anubis would be approved by
some on the council but not all. I shall ask.”
        “Nothing more I can ask of you Teal’c,”
        Acknowledging the implicit dismissal, he turned and swiftly left the room.

         “How soon until the Atlantis squadrons go online?”
         “As soon as all the fighters are available they can be declared operational,”
Billingsgate noted, “they are already familiarised with the craft given the amount of time they
have been using the training Vipers and borrowing the Cobras birds whilst they were
forming. It’s only the fighters we are waiting for.”
         “Okay,” Joan replied, “when?”
         Shooting the Commander a mildly reproving look, the Colonel continued, “Several
birds destined for the Atlantis squadrons were diverted to replace Galactica’s losses during
the operation against the Cylons but we’re talking a squadron in a week, the next a week
after. The birds are already built; they’re just waiting on final flights tests, the usual niggling
list of fixes and the final sign-over.
         Spares will be an issue; both squadrons will just have a single spare bird each until the
next batch rolls off.”
         “Not the best situation,” she grinned, “still think we need better names for the
squadrons though then Atlantis one and two...”
         Grinning his agreement, Billingsgate continued, “I quite agree and I also dislike the
lack of flexibility having two squadrons permanently assigned to a single ship results in but


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I’m already working on that. Should have individual squadron designations sorted out
shortly.”
         “Good,” Joan nodded sharply, “both Adama and Thompson are agitating for the
political arguments over the replacement for the Raptors to be sorted out publicly and
privately… well, the bickering idiots are going to get a fait-accompli shoved in their faces.”
         The response to that was an approving smile, “ballsy, perhaps necessary but
politicians don’t like being made out for fools. They’ll both catch some flack for that and in
might bite them in the arse later.”
         “Adama has it lucky there; he at least has the majority support of his government. At
least, as far as that project is concerned, it’s our politicians that are the issue which I don’t get
given that precedent as far as AWACs is concerned has always been for modifying an
existing design to the role. Hell, I think the only major exception to that was the Hawkeye
which worked it the other round, got modified into other uses such as COD.”
         “Dick-waving,”
         Williams found herself choking at the dead-pan response form the Colonel and she
shook her head, exasperated, “sometimes Colonel, you surprise me. That underneath all the
polish and buff there could actually be a wicked sense of humour…”
         “Thanks,” Billingsgate chuckled, “but I think the point still stands, there are going to
be some very pissed off politicians and they will have some reason to be.”
         “We need the capability and we need it now,” she shook her head, “okay, so the extra
sensor pods we can attach to the fighters have their advantages but they still have to rely too
much on a fighter pilot and second who already have quite a number of things to keep an eye
out for, their arses for a start.”
         “Is it going to be a Paladin variant?”
         “Yes, but without as much parts commonality as some of the other variants.” Joan
explained, “We’re talking about a 79% parts commonality as opposed to 90 or even 96% for
some of the other variants.”
         “Why so low?”
         “Impulse drives, an improved and lengthened spaceframe design,” shrugging, she
brought the schematic up on the display, “an extra ten foot of usable hull, improved
resistance to weapons fire… the new design has already been tested on a courier Paladin and
it works well. The Paladin Yards at the cape are set up to build spec 4 Paladins already but
not all of the designs for the variants have been updated yet.”
         Billinsgate snorted, “Far too many variants for that to be a quick or easy job.”
         “Very much so,” Joan replied, “the most common variants, the couriers, passenger
and small freight variants have already been updated, the rest are being worked on.”
         A frown started to appear on the Colonels face, “Impulse drives… dual-fuel?”
         “Yes,” she sighed, “this is one instance where added capability is more important then
the drawbacks. Luckily, neither the Naquadah reactor or the Impulse drives use a lot of fuel
so we’re not talking about a lot of space used there. Still, the storage for the reaction thrusters
and the impulse drives does fill the wings plus secondary stores elsewhere in the frame.”
         “So, nothing an atmospheric pilot wouldn’t be used to already,” he noted.
         “Quite so,” she agreed, “as I understand it, the Airheads are the next support craft to
be updated to impulse drives; we should see a prototype end of the year. I’m quite hopeful for
that one; the early simulations show a one-quarter increase in their useful load.”
         “A quarter?” Billingsgate whistled, “No wonder Reynolds sounded like the cat that
got the cream in his last memo.”
         Joan laughed, “Apparently Miss Meyer threw him out of her office she got so fed up
with his antics.”
         “She still refusing any project with direct military applications?”


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        “Yes,” she shrugged, “I don’t think she’s going to change that stance now but it’s
going to be hell when she finally realises how flimsy that wall between support craft and
warcraft really is. Frankly, I’m surprised Kalinda and Chocky haven’t clued her in on that but
then again, Chocky had the exact same attitude in the early days.”
        “Pacifists,” he snorted.
        “Each to their own choices,” Joan sighed, frowning, “and their own self-delusions.
Not always good or even helpful but very much a part of being a human and not a cylon or
replicator drone.”
        Billingsgate gazed at Joan thoughtfully for a moment, “how long has it been since you
last had a vacation?”
        “Too long,” she shook her head, “years…”
        He smiled, “I’ve got some time booked next month, going home to Florida but there’s
no-one waiting for me and I hate holidaying alone.”
        “That an invite?” Joan grinned.


Thirty-Eight

         “Well, this sucks.”
         Peters snorted, “Well Murielle, if you must insist on not ducking, you should expect a
little time in the body and fender shop.”
         “A little time?” she moaned, “they tell me I’m going to be in here for months. I’ll go
rusty, lose my skills.”
         Peters shot her a wry, ironic look.
         “Hey, it could happen!”
         “I’m sure,” the Rear Admiral replied, “I’m also sure the heavy duty spring with the
quick release somebody rigged up to my chair had nothing to do with you wanting to keep
your hand in.”
         The look Murielle sent her was pure ‘I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about’
but Peters wasn’t fooled, “for heavens sakes, you’re in a wheelchair, how did you manage to
get into my office without anyone knowing?”
         “Oh, and what makes you think it was me?”
         “None of the cameras recorded anything, including my hidden one no-one else is
supposed to know about and the one my second in command installed that I’m not supposed
to know about…” came the dry reply.
         “Oh,” Murielle at least had the grace to look mildly abashed, “bit of a giveaway?”
         “You placed the memory with episodes of Dad’s Army!”
         Laughing, she lay back in her bed, “okay, maybe that was a step too far.”
         Shooting the solider a ‘you think?’ glare, Peters rose to her feet, and began slowly
pacing the room.
         “Still, this had brought a few things to head.”
         “Oh?”
         “First off, you’re tour expired. If it wasn’t for the current state of emergency you
would have been bumped back to a desk job or support role years ago.”
         Peters shook her head at the disgusted, pleading look Murielle sent her, “I know full
well you’re not a pencil pusher, hell after the argument you had with the First Lord of the
Admiralty, I think everyone knows you want to stay in a frontline role.
         Nonetheless, once the Doctors release you, you’re heading to Alpha Centauri to
review procedures at the training base the army has there and write up a full report. As well
as that, you will be expected to make time to get flight-certified for the Paladins.”


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        “Yes!” Murielle barked, and then hid a blush at the amused look she got in response.
        “You’ve been asking for it long enough,” She replied after a few moments, shaking
her head, “You were also nominated for a bar to your Conspicuous Gallantry Medal…”
        Snorting, Murielle rolled her eyes.
        “…but O’Neill vetoed it.”
        “He what?” she replied, startled and hurt.
        Reaching into her back pocket, Peters slid a small velvet lined box out and passed it
across, “he says to say this has nothing to do with putting Kinsey in the slammer.”
        “Bloody hellfire,” Murielle started, eyebrows disappearing into her hairline at the
item within the box, “how did he manage this?”
        “Made quite a few calls; got very little resistance and voila, one VC,” straightening
herself swiftly, Peters saluted the operative, “Congratulations Murielle… now please tell me
your surname so I can have the award made out properly.”
        Barking out a laugh, Murielle grinned, “Afraid I can’t do that, state secret you know,
Daddy Winters might just kill me if I did that.”
        “Winters…” Peters frowned, the started, “Admiral Winters?”
        “Yep,”
        “I thought Thomas was his only child?”
        “So did Admiral Winters, apparently mother dearest never bothered to tell him she
was pregnant when she left him.”
        “Ah,” Peters sighed, “you are full of surprises aren’t you?”
        “Always.”

        “The more we get into this project, the more I hate it,” Albertine frowned, glancing
around the room, “we’re not getting anywhere.”
        “On the contrary,” Carter shrugged, a slight frown on her face as she held Albertines
gaze, “you’ve successfully disproved twelve theories of how to jam Colonial jump drives
merely though simulations and another three through actually testing. That’s fifteen ideas we
now know don’t work.”
        “That’s not much,”
        “No, but its something. I didn’t summon you here to because you don’t have a
working prototype yet, I summoned you here to find out what progress you had actually
made.”
        She snorted, slumping back in her seat, “well that last attempt, the gravity well
generator I’m sure we’ll find other uses for. I have no idea why the brass insisted we test that
given that we know they can jump into atmosphere and any gravity field big enough to stop
that would be catastrophic to whatever you were trying to protect anyway.”
        “That is something,” Carter smiled, “it may be a little clichéd, but more discoveries
are made through ‘huh, that’s funny’ then eureka.”
        “Says the original master of the ‘eureka’ moment” Albertine shot back.
        Carter dropped her gaze, “that was only once.”
        “Once?”
        Choosing to ignore that, she continued, “There is one other reason I’ve asked you here
actually…”
        “Oh?” she replied warily, knowing that she might not like what she was about to hear.

        “Your project is being moved out to the Alpha Site,”
        Shrugging, Albertine reached into her pocket and handed an official request form
across and Carters eyebrows rose as she read a request for half the team to be moved to a safe
off-world location.


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        Non-plussed, she continued, “You were going to request this?”
        “All the Cylons need to do to end the project is jump in above us and drop a nuke.
We’re acting to prevent the same vulnerability that could end the project in far too abrupt a
manner. The Alpha Site is at least protected by its anonymity, but I also don’t think the entire
project should be in one place for the same reason.”
        “Okay,” mentally shrugging, Carter started tapping at the PC on her desk, writing a
revision to the orders she had been preparing to send to Albertines team, “does Chocky have
any ideas regarding the project.”
        “She has stated that the jump drive concept used by the Colonials is new to her,”
Albertine grimaced, “its actually one of the reasons she persuaded Kalinda to take her on a
holiday to her homeworld, she wanted to check their archives. They have nothing either.”
        “Damn,” she muttered, leaning back from her PC as the revised orders sent, “I hate to
pile more pressure on you over this one…”
        “I know,” Albertine grimaced, “if the Cylons had any sense, they could have killed us
all by now.”

         “Please tell me you have some good news,” Peters grimaced at O’Neils face as he
flashed up on her monitor.
         “Yes?”
         “Hah!” she barked out a laugh as she leaned backwards in her chair, tapping her desk
with a pencil, “that makes a change.”
         O’Neil grinned, agreeing with the point, “the work on the Cheops is proceeding ahead
of schedule. The Free Jaffa Camp decided to use the ship as a training exercise so we’ve got a
whole bunch of Jaffa learning more about how Goa’uld ships works by taking them apart…”
         Peters smiled, shaking her head, “that’s definitely helpful. So long as they watch for
contamination and the like.”
         “They are, and hating every minute of it but they’re learning.”
         “Good,”
         “There’s more,” O’Neil continued, “the engineers are quite satisfied with the quality
of the trinium despite the years of exposure on that hellworld, more of it is going into the
usable pile then the junk pile.”
         “And even the junk is usable ‘cos it just gets added to the ore at the start of the
refining process,” Peters mused, “how much more usable then not?”
         “They’re chucking about five percent,”
         Peters eyes widened, “hellfire, start getting that little lot shifted over here straight
away. We’re still going to junk a lot reshaping and cutting to fit but that little lot might save
us enough on construction costs to be worth another hull.”
         It was O’Neil’s turn to look interested, “really? I know that the trinium is already
being sent to Gaia and the two Type III’s covering her…”
         “We were planning on about a quarter of the trinium having to be reforged,”
         O’Neil leaned back in his seat whistling at that as she continued, “and a far slower
delivery rate.”
         “Are you going to go for a new hull or that infrastructure project you’ve been bucking
for?”
         “New hull first and if the numbers stack up, Coalmine II,” Peters frowned, “I suspect
however we’ll just be stacking components for a while, I think I’ll get the hull but not the
asteroid mining base. Either way, I’ll get the accountants on it, soon as you send me the
updated figures on that Cheops.”
         Nodding acknowledgement, O’Neill swiftly terminated the call, leaving the Admiral
to her paperwork once more.


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Thirty-Nine

         “Deuterium,”
         Davis glanced up from his PC blinking as Carter walked through his office door, and
inwardly hid a grimace as he noticed the glint in her eyes. That glint could only mean one of
two things; either she had just solved some scientific puzzle…. Or she was in a crusading
mood.
         Again.
         Not that she was often wrong but still.
         “I believe it’s a hydrogen isotope most often used with tritium in nuclear reactors,” he
replied slowly.
         “Right, as well as many medical applications” Carter nodded, “but it’s also the most
efficient fuel for the impulse drives used on the Vipers and newer Paladins. Right now the
supply is sufficient for Earths uses, some scientific research and the existing impulse drive
equipped craft but the level of demand has already pushed prices up.”
         “And as more Impulse drive equipped craft goes online, the demand is going to
increase even further,” Davis shrugged, “I’ve already had discussions with several enrichers
and they are already working on ramping up production.”
         “That would be a good start…”
         “Wait,” David interrupted, “You’re going to ask for something expensive aren’t
you?”
         “Well, yes,” Carter replied, a little taken aback.
         “In this case, I have to say it’s already covered,” shrugging, the man once known as
‘Disaster’ Davis continued, “I already have confirmation that the existing and operational
plants are stepping up production and given a nearly guaranteed income, several private firms
are collaborating to construct a new larger plant in Canada. We also have two older plants
being recommissioned.”
         Hiding a grin, it wouldn’t after all do to destroy his sombre, serious reputation, Davis
finished, “you didn’t think we would have to build everything ourselves did you?”
         “Well,” Carter started, and then smiled, shaking her head, acknowledging the hit, “it
has seemed that way sometimes.”
         “I know,” he nodded, “when what we did was classified and we couldn’t talk about it,
when private contractors couldn’t entirely be trusted, when the only expertise we could use
was our own…
         But it’s a different world now; we can go to outside contractors and agencies and
usually not have to hide why. We can upon outside experts for a lot of tasks with fewer
worries. Okay, a lot of what we do is still classified but this isn’t quite such a closed world
anymore.”
         Carter nodded thoughtfully, and then began walking out the door but Davis stopped
her, “what exactly were you going to ask for anyway?”
         “Well, you know the Ha’taks are capable of lifting far more then just their normal
load out of an atmosphere,”
         Davis just nodded.
         “A proposal crossed my desk to convert one of the System Lord Ha’taks that need
refitting and modernising anyway into a gas collector capable of collecting gases from the
higher levels of a gas giants atmosphere such as Jupiter.”
         “I thought the abundance of Deuterium in Jupiter’s atmosphere was far less then
Earths?”


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         “About 15% of the concentration on Earth.”
         “Makes less economic sense then getting the supply from Earth but it has its
attractions,” Davis mused, “if you change the proposal to general gas collecting, particularly
normal hydrogen, ammonia, hydrogen sulphides, water…”
         “Water would be the difficult one,” Carter nodded, “I would have to check but I
believe the largest abundances are below a Ha’taks hard deck level. But, if water is your goal
there is a lot of ice floating about the star system we could grab. All it would need really
would be a purification plant to be installed.”
         “Or you could use the Ha’taks heavy lifting ability and instead of making heavy
freight lifting a secondary role, refit maybe two of the Ha’taks to make it a primary role,”
Davis responded, and then grinned, liking the idea, “less disassembling of large components
to allow them to be lifted by an Airhead, ability to transport internally.”
         “Equip them with large dual-mode tanks as well and they could shift all the water and
air the fleet needs,” Carter smiled, “two refitted Ha’taks could replace maybe a quarter of the
Airhead and Shunter fleets.”
         “Make sure you put that in the proposal,” Davis noted dryly, “I’m sure the saving in
personnel and maintenance costs would have far more effect on the bean counters then any
other argument you could use.”
         “Right, Carter nodded firmly and with a bounce in her step, walked out of the office,
leaving Davis to turn thoughtfully but smiling back to his paperwork.

         Peters sighed, her expression content as she watched the activity taking place outside
her window. It was, technically speaking a busy day and she should be working her arse off.
Of course, working your arse off could be avoided if you knew the work was coming, could
do most of it before hand and had a damn fine team backing you up.
         Searcher inbound, tugs waiting should the ship need any help as it manoeuvred itself
to dock to the station, to pick up supplies and replace crew after its hasty repairs at
Ravenbright.
         The fading, glittering lights of two new Torpedo Boats and their chase craft as the
newly built moved away from the station, ready to begin commissioning trials.
         The blinking brilliant lights of more Paladins arriving, these, if everything was going
to schedule, should be a nearly complete but very green shipyard crew, just out of training
and destined in the very long run to form the core of Gaia’s crew but for the moment very
much hers.
         And damn, could she use the extra crew.
         Of course, with Liberty nearly ready to leave her dock, the main spar between her rear
engineering hull and the forward crew and control compartments having been completely
rebuilt, the activity was only bound to increase.
         Unless of course, something was found to be wrong again. Well, the chase Paladins
were already assigned and would be arriving in a few hours. Hopefully this time she would
have need of them.
         Her eyes caught on two more glittering forms, swiftly darting across her view, both
shining brightly as only new metal can. That tell-tale and potentially fatal glint would be dealt
with once they were painted, but for now, there were new Lancers in her skies. Of course,
they weren’t for a new squadron, merely to help replace losses, but nonetheless, more fighters
were always helpful.
         Well almost always.
         Now, all she needed was the arrogant Minbari to go away and her day would almost
be perfect.
         Almost.


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         Thompson glanced up swiftly as the Private guarding his door announced a visitor,
smiling in recognition he gestured at the chair in front of his desk.
         “Dr Jackson, good to see you again,” grinning, he gestured at the private, signalling
for drinks, “Tell me, how are negotiations going with the Orbanians?”
         “That is actually what I came here to discuss,” pushing his glasses back, he leaned
forward, his expression earnest, “the negotiations are going very well, well enough that I am
inclined to recommend a permanent Ambassador be assigned.”
         “As we did with the Land of the Light and the Free Jaffa you mean,”
         “Very much so,” Daniel replied, “they are quite serious about how worried they are
regarding the threat from the Goa’ulds, not too surprising given their proximity to Anubis and
they think we are the ones to help them.”
         “Not too surprising,” the Admiral noted, “on two points, first thanks to you and
original SG-1 we have a lot of goodwill with the Orban.”
         “That was mainly O’Neil,” Daniel interjected and Thompson nodded, conceding the
point.
         “And two, there wasn’t really any organized resistance until we came onto the scene.”
         “That would depend on how effective you considered the Tok’ra to be,”
         The look Thompson sent back in reply said all he needed too do about the supposed
effectiveness of the Tok’ra. Daniel just continued, unwilling to argue the point.
         “Still, of all the independents out there they are the most likely to be able to support
our technology and…”
         “Most of this argument I am already aware of,” Thompson interjected, “and there is a
major ongoing argument about sending resources to create a base on Orban and defend it.
Frankly, at this point it time, the resources just don’t seem to exist for us.”
         “Well,” Daniel smiled, “that’s not going to be a worry. They’re not talking about
asking us to defend them, they’re asking us to teach them how to defend themselves.”
         He frowned, “I had heard rumours…”
         “Yes, I discussed this off the record with Hammond before he retired,” he caught the
Admirals eyes, his expression serious, “but even Hammond didn’t know the full extent of it.
They want a full military alliance with the long term aim of being self-sufficient in defence
and co-operating with us and the Colonials offensively. They are talking quite seriously about
terms for sending Urrone to us for full military training and for an initial purchase of
warships to form an initial defensive force whilst they build a shipyard of their own.”
         “Holy…” Thompson caught himself, and then leaned back, a punch drunk expression
quickly leaving his face, “you say they are serious?”
         “Very, and given the opportunity, I would say they are quite capable of it.”
         “This will change their civilisation entirely I would have thought.”
         Sighing, Daniel shrugged, “They are choosing to change it. At least with our support
it will be a quicker and less painful task.”
         “No wonder you wanted to talk about sending a permanent Ambassador!” grimacing,
the Admiral continued, “but what are they offering us?”
         “Basing rights, military alliance, scientific co-operation, all of which is helpful I know
but given their exposed situation and our lack of military strength, not decisive,”
         “But they’ve mentioned something which is decisive,”
         “Yes,” he replied, “they have indeed.”
         “Okay,” Thompson smiled, “I think we can talk turkey.”




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Forty

         “There’s been an unexpected development,”
         “That doesn’t sound good,” Peters replied dryly, her eyebrows raised, “must have
been quite something to get you to fly out here unscheduled.”
         “Well, I’m not quite sure how to deal with this,” Davis replied softly, “I got out of a
meeting with Carter and ten minutes later I’m being summoned to the Stargate to heal deal
with some unexpected off-world emissaries.
         It appears there has been another rebellion among a small group of worlds under the
thumb of a minor Goa’uld no-ones being bothered to do anything about, not even Anubis or
Maktenos.”
         “Nothing new there,” Peters replied, slightly puzzled, “lots of worlds have been trying
to throw off the Goa’uld.”
         “Well, this incident stands out in two ways,” Davis paused, considering his words,
“first, the Jaffa and the enslaved humans worked together to throw off the Goa’uld and it
doesn’t appear any of them were Free Jaffa.”
         Sighing, Peters leaned backwards in her seat, “not unprecedented but certainly rare. I
imagine the second one is a dozy though for you to be here.”
         “Well,” Davis frowned, a puzzled, somewhat bemused expression on his face, “they
don’t want to overthrow the Goa’uld it appears. Instead, they just want a new one in charge.”
         Peters blinked, and then shrugged, “If they want a Goa’uld why would they come to
us? Sure, we have several imprisoned or contained but we are not just going to free one
because they’re not willing to give up old beliefs.”
         “Perhaps, but we have one who isn’t imprisoned or contained and is even trusted…”
         She blinked again, his words sinking in, her jaw slowly dropping, “you have got to be
kidding me,”
         “Three worlds with a total population of approximately 350,000 humans and 5,000
Jaffa. Not to mention the crews of the two reported Ha’taks.”
         “Bloody Fucking Hell,” grimacing, she swung her seat around to look out the
window, then sighing, “and I had just persuaded her to come off defensive duties and throw
her lot in with the First Battlegroup too.”
         “Timings interesting,” Davis commented, “we have emissaries from Maktenos
arriving shortly to discuss a cease-fire. Boomer preparing for her expedition to the
Unforgiven, the unconfirmed collapse of the Loyalists and the Orbanians…”
         “Just means something bigger and nastier is on the horizon no doubt,” Peters replied,
sarcastically, “still, this is not our choice to make really. You say we trust Enerina and I
agree, so let’s show a little trust and call her in to discuss this.”
         “You’re probably right,” Davis replied, “but then what?”
         “If this is genuine, then a Dauntless and two Ha’taks is an adequate short-term
defensive force for three worlds that are low on everybody’s priorities,”
         “But not long-term,” he finished, “which means…”
         “We will have another fire to try and piss on.”

        “A situation easing in France at the moment as the fourth new Government since
Disclosure starts to pick up its pace. The government of Jacques Abel may only have existed
for two weeks but it is already proving itself to be more decisive then the previous
contenders, whether that will be enough for it survive only time will tell.
        The dismantling of the French shipyard, intended to produce Prometheus cruisers has
already been authorised, the personnel and equipment being reassigned as part of Frances
contribution to the Gaia project.


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        This announcement was followed swiftly with the deployment of army engineering
units into Paris to begin the process of stabilising the remains of the city.”

         “A massive delivery of fighters took place at Manston earlier today, fourteen newly
built Lancers, enough to bring the sole surviving dedicated Earth defence squadron back to
full strength.
         One can only hope that this process of renewal will continue with the other squadrons
assigned to Earths defences and that they will not be deployed out of the system.”

       “The launch of the Vostock, a type II Dauntless destroyer has been confirmed by the
Russian government. The vessel, whose launch was initially delayed as her hyperdrive was
diverted to repairing an existing vessel, is now the 13th destroyer built for space by what is
now called the Tau’ri Star Service and the 3rd to be funded by the Russian Government.”

        “Construction has been started at Thundersdawn station on a new Prometheus class
cruiser, the vessel, whose costs are said to have been covered by efficiency saving elsewhere,
is currently one of just three vessels of this class under construction.”

        “A heavy military presence in Colorado Springs becomes even more impressive today
as, under heavy military escort, several human appearing figures are escorted around the
city.
        These figures have not yet been identified but the presence of Diplomatic Core and
Tau’ri Star Service Marines among the guard detail strongly suggests these unknowns are of
alien origin.”

        “Aliens in our schools?
        The strange rumour circulating in Colorado Springs has been ignored by the military,
but talk still persists that Colonel O’Neil, now a Brigadier General and Commander of
Ravenbright station brought a young girl of unfamiliar dress and mannerisms who had not
idea of normal childlike behaviour was brought to a school in Colorado Springs for a day
several years prior to Disclosure.
        Several photos have been uncovered of the young lady in question but they do not
appear to match any person in the Colorado Springs area and no records have been
uncovered revealing her identity.
        The local school board has also refused to comment.”

        “Wormhole Extreme, an extreme flop or successful cover-up?
        The TV series, which survived for only two seasons but obtained a cult following as
well as several awards for the unsurpassed CGI seen in one episode, has been subjected to
some debate since the events of Disclosure. A debate that centres around the obvious
parallels between the series and what we now know to be the reality of Stargate Command.
        The presence of several senior members of the Tau’ri Star Service on the lists of the
shows advisors has also spurned strong suggestions of the show being a cover-up but a
cover-up for what?
        The director and original creator of the series went missing during Disclosure and is
now known to be under military guard.”

       “A Lancer or not a Lancer?
       This strange craft, captured at extreme range using telephoto lenses appears in many
ways to be similar to the Lancer fighters designed by the Royal Space Service which currently


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equip four operational squadrons, does not match any known Tau’ri warcraft but the
similarity of design suggests a new development of the Lancer airframe.
         The Lancer fighters, which have always been dogged by reliability issues, were once
classed as the most manoeuvrable fighters in our arsenal until being superseded in that role
by the Colonial derived Vipers and since then doubts have been raised over the future of the
troubled design.
         Is this the first sighting of the Lancers future, a desperate attempt to salvage the one
questionable design the Royal Space Service produced?
         Only time will tell, but what is certain, though clearly capable of being moved, this
craft is not yet complete. It is likely to be some time before we see this new toy reach for the
stars.”

        “Soothed nerves down south today as the Australian Prime Minister confirms a deal
with the Tau’ri Star Service to base the 5th Patrolcraft Squadron at RAAF Darwin.
        The base, which will need redeveloping to fully support the as-yet incomplete
squadron, has been operational since 1940 and its role has expanded since to involve both
military and civil operations.
        With Disclosure, the civilian side of the bases operations has been marginalized and
the arrival of the torpedo boats and gun boats of the 5th Squadron is expected to only
exacerbate this but some consider a fair swap for better military protection from alien attacks
down under.”

        “The launch of a new torpedo boat from Ravenbright station has been confirmed
today, the boat, which is not interstellar travel capable but is instead a local defence variant,
will join the local defence squadron, leaving the squadron just one craft short of its full
complement.
        The final replacement is already under construction is expected to launch for its
shakedown cruise shortly.”


Forty-One

        “The main problem chewing up the fleet at the moment is garrison duties,” Peters
pointed out bluntly, “right now we have four warships garrisoning home, one in Alpha
Centauri but the Colonial Fleet is bottled up there at the moment as well. Not to mention the
forces deployed to Minbari and Vulcan space, both groups of which are mainly involved with
defending the outposts that are under construction for us in the regions.”
        “Having five Ha’taks awaiting refit doesn’t help either,” Thompson pointed out
reasonably, “but we daren’t deploy them either given that they are at System Lord levels of
capability and that puts them at a disadvantage compared to Maktenos’s warships, let alone
Anubis’s.”
        “The Ha’taks are meant to carry fighters as well and at the moment we don’t have
fighters to deploy aboard them, weakening them even further,” Peters smiled, “never an easy
day.”
        “Still,” O’Neill butted in, “I don’t see why we need defensive fleets for both Alpha
Centauri and Earth. One solid formation to cover both…”
        “Wont work yet,” Thompson interrupted, “for that we really need two things. One, a
jammer for that blasted jump drive the Colonials came up with or if not a jammer at least
something that will reduce its effectiveness.”



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        “And two, stronger planetary defence forces and fixed defences,” Peters finished for
her boss, “strong enough to be able to hold against most attackers until the home fleet can
arrive.”
        “So,” O’Neill smiled, “you have been thinking about this.”
        “Very much so,” sighing, Peters continued, “we think that if the fixed defences were
stronger, we could release as many as two ships from defensive duties right now.”
        “Ahh,” O’Neill frowned, accepting a sheaf of papers from someone off-screen that he
just dumped straight into his inbox without looking at, “that’s not a lot.”
        “But it would be enough to turn the 1st Battlegroup into a battlegroup and not just a
taskforce,” Thompson noted, “the new satellite production facility they’re constructing at the
cape will help, but that’s for type II’s and other smaller satellites. All of which will give
fighters pause but warships will barely even notice them.”
        “And the bigger boys can be constructed surface side and lifted to orbit,” O’Neill
frowned, “modular construction?”
        “The type III’s are highly modular as it is,” Peters replied, “but they still have to be
assembled in orbit and that’s the slow, dangerous and time-consuming part. That’s actually
one of the things I wanted to discuss, one of my cadets came up with an idea which could
save us a lot of time and effort there.”
        “Oh?” Thompson asked but Peters had turned to O’Neill’s image.
        “There is still a lot of unallocated volume in Ravenbright, isn’t there?”
        “Enough to fit a Ha’tak inside,” O’Neill replied dryly, then frowned suddenly, “a new
slipway specifically for Type III’s?”
        Thompson started then grinned, but it was Peters who spoke once more, “put ‘em
together and ship them out. Advantages of a null-gee environment for construction combined
with total enclosure and the possibility of full atmosphere with far easier and closer
availability of supplies and equipment…”
        “That would work,” Thompson leaned forward in his seat, “do you have a detailed
proposal yet?”
        “Only what the Cadet wrote which isn’t as detailed or polished as I would like,” she
shrugged, “He’ll learn. I’ll send that and get an improved version out to you shortly.”
        “Ideas are not the issue though,” O’Neill pointed out.
        “No, they’re not,” Peters admitted, “its having the resources to do anything about
them,”
        “Well, I do have one thing that will help there,” Thompson noted, “the refit of two
Ha’taks to freighter duties has been authorised with enough money to cover design and
simulations.”
        “But not the actual refit work itself,” she noted slowly, glancing at Thompson for
confirmation.
        “Not necessary,” Thompson shrugged, “the money for their refits was already
promised. We’re just changing what they are being refitted into.”
        “New financial year?” O’Neill asked, grimacing inwardly at the fact that he actually
knew the correct and full meaning of the term nowadays.
        “Quite,”
        The Generals eyes widened as an idea occurred to him, “We don’t even need to wait
until a dedicated slip is ready for the Type III’s. Slip 3 is underutilized at the moment.”
        Thompson considered this for a moment then whistled, “I’m definitely going to need
that proposal as soon as you can Peters.”
        “Right,” she grimaced, “more paperwork, always a joy.”
        “Still, that improves our ability to produce fixed defences but mobile…”



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        O’Neill nodded agreement with the Admiral, “frankly, I’d swap a Prometheus if I had
one for another gunboat squadron. Can be more places at once and adds up to far more guns.”
        Peter nodded, but sighed, “at least you have room for them. At the moment the only
place I can put new assets that need a fixed base is Earths surface and frankly that’s not ideal.

        The patrolcraft… well, they are certainly atmospheric capable but it’s not their native
environment. The fighters are better but a lot of my nightmares revolve around somebody
coming in, punching straight through any fighters or gunboats we have in orbit and just
bombarding the surface installations before the ground based defences can launch.
        Hell, even when they are launching!
        It was bad enough when that F-302 went down in Alabama but just imagine a fully
warbucked Blastboat going down into a major city.”
        “It is a vulnerability,” Thompson noted, “the major issue with surface based fighters
and the like is simply reaction time, which would mainly be the surface to orbit time.”
        “One lesson World War Two and every major war since has taught us in that two
birds in the sky can make a mockery out of a squadron still on the ground,” Peters sighed,
“when you expand that to include space well… well, I would be a lot happier if we could
support more fighters and gunboats from orbital installations.”
        “Will Gaia be able to support fighters?” O’Neill asked concerned.
        “No,” Thompson frowned, “she’ll have damn good shields and a lot of pulse laser
batteries but will be relying on her attendant defensive satellites for anything else.”
        “And Thundersdawn has no-where near enough spare internal volume for another
launch bay,” she shrugged, “it’s likely more extensions would be out too. The station is
almost one-sixth extensions anyway.”
        “Then use the Ha’taks,” O’Neill suggested, “They’re meant to support fighters
anyway.”
        “Not our fighters,” Thompson noted, “at least not perfectly, but put the ready
squadron aboard. Any fighters that need work stay groundside and regularly rotate the
squadrons around.”
        “Replace the airlocks, which takes just six or seven days in drydock and you could
support a pair of gunboats too,” Peters smiled, “of course we would have to use Valour’s
Hour and Valour’s Sword, they at least have compatible airlocks and are undamaged if
obsolete.”
        “This may knock as much as fifteen minutes off the reaction time,” chuckling,
Thompson sent an amused glance at Peters, “I think I’ll write this one up, save you some
paperwork.”
        Peters flushed, and then poked her tongue out at her boss, a grin on her face.
        “Good idea General,” Thompson smiled, “but long term, that command station in
Earth orbit the politicians are arguing for will be a necessity.”
        Peters snorted, then shushed the Fleet Admiral, “don’t want them knowing you
actually agree with them do you?”
        “Oh I agree with them over the necessity just not the timing or the order of what they
are suggesting,” he shrugged, “I think your idea with regards to the Lancelot weapons
platforms will be very easy to sell and buy me some time there.”
        “I’ll pass it along to Edonia too,” Peters noted, “they have a Lancelot B under
construction at the moment, if they move that into the BC slip Vostock just cleared…”
        “Talking of new construction, how goes project Dart?” Thompson turned towards
O’Neill, who shrugged, glancing at the papers he had dumped into his inbox a few minutes
ago.
        “The prototype shows distinct promise,”


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        “Dart?” Peters asked, eyebrows raised.
        “Got a little fed up of using Lancers and F-302s for basic space instruction when
those craft would be more useful in operational squadrons,” Thompson shrugged, “we have
enough trainees going through now that it works out as two squadron’s worth of front-line
fighters in use for basic training. There is no problem with Lancers, Strikers and the rest
being used for operational training units, they have to be in fact but for getting people used to
the differences between working in atmosphere and in space?”
        O’Neill nodded his agreement, “the attrition rate for basic training units doesn’t help
either. We’ve lost more fighters that way then some squadrons have lost operationally.”
        “Joy,” she nodded, “any good?”
        The General shrugged, “they’ll do for the job, and at one-quarter the cost of an F-302.
Plus, they will be equipped for basic weapons training.”
        “Which equates to a possible use as a last line of defence,” Peters nodded, “I
approve.”
        “Glad to hear it,” O’Neill snarked.
        Rolling her eyes at him, Peters turned back to Thompson, “How does the budget look
for next year?”
        “America looks to be concentrating on capital projects still, such as the reconstruction
of the Cape but those will benefit us more long term, the Spanish seem to be interested in
funding another Blastboat PDF squadron for Earth as soon as their entry is confirmed,”
Thompson shrugged, “the rest, I don’t know yet.”


Forty-Two

        “How goes operation Shadowsword?”
        Peters shot Billingsgate a sharp glare, before glancing pointedly at the tech working at
a panel behind the Lieutenant-Colonel.
        Wincing, he sent a wordless apology at Peters and she just sighed, and rose from her
desk, striding swiftly towards the small kitchenette attached to her office. Inside, she gestured
towards the kettle as she leaned backwards against the sink, her arms dropping into a crossed
position in front of her.
        “So far we’re in a holding pattern,” she noted as he gratefully switched the kettle on,
“the Free Jaffa have confirmed their support for the operation and they are sending at least
two of their upgraded Ha’taks to assist. They will be under our command for the op. Right
now, the two main items we’re waiting on are the arrival of those Ha’taks and the Atlantis
Viper squadrons being declared fully operational. As soon as we have those we’re go.”
        Billingsgate frowned, pausing for a moment; hand in the sugar bowl, “isn’t Yorktown
due to be relaunched?”
        A slight smile dropped into position on Peters face, “indeed, and not just Yorktown. It
all depends on timing but I may just be able to add another two ships and possibly a gunboat
squadron to the mix.”
        She got a quiet whistle in response, “damn. That would be about the biggest fleet
we’ve ever assembled.”
        A laugh filled the room “depends on how you define big. We deployed the kitchen
sink when we went after Maktenos to retake Chocky’s homeworld but you weren’t here for
that op. certainly we had nothing on Atlantis’es scale when we did that one.”
        “Its still not going to be enough though is it?”
        “Not on the face of it no,” Peters admitted, “but…”



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         She shook her head, “I’m afraid there are aspects of this which are code-word
compartmentalised.”
         Shrugging, Billingsgate acknowledged the silent injunction not to push, “still, I do
need to know if you will need additional squadrons to deploy with you.”
         “That I don’t know yet,” sighing, Peters turned, grabbing her own steaming cuppa off
the worktop, “problem would be supporting them as always. At convoy SOA it looks like the
mission area will be about two weeks travel time.”
         “Far too long for the pilots to remain in their craft,” he noted with a definite grimace,
“a day is bad enough but two weeks is literally not possible.”
         “Atlantis can carry more fighters but her launch tubes are rigged for Vipers,” she
shrugged, “launching other types is of course possible but it has to be done through the flight-
deck lifts which means they’re going to be slow.”
         “Ha’taks?”
         “A possibility, but given this is an offensive operation, we would really need to use an
updated vessel. We have none available for deployment and the two under refit,” the Rear-
Admiral frowned, “are unlikely to be ready in time. Even if there refits are completed, they
certainly won’t have completed their shake-down cruises in time for the job.”
         It was Billingsgate’s turn to frown, “if the enemy has lots of fighters…”
         “I know,” a sigh, her hands cradling the steaming cup as Peters continued, “And
frankly, I would bet on their being plenty of fighters.”
         “Times like this a dedicated carrier would be nice,” he shook his head, “but in place
of that, I would advise making fucking sure you take at least on patrol craft squadron with
you. Keep ‘em in Atlantis’es landing bays for the long part of the trip.”
         Peters shook her head, “you’re probably right, but I don’t want to leave Earths
defences almost entirely in the hands of green units. We would have to take no. 1 squadron,
leaving no. 5 to reinforce local defence. Only one of their birds has launched as yet.”
         “Well there is a saying among some of your deadlier countrymen,” the former US
Airforce officer replied softly, placing his now empty cup into the sink, “Who Dares, Wins.”
         “Indeed,” came the soft, considering reply.

        “We may be missing a trick here,” Kalinda murmured slowly, her expression
thoughtful, her head resting on the palms of her hands as she gazed slowly at the book in
front of her.
        “Oh?” came the soft reply from behind her making the scientist yelp, as she swiftly
turned towards the voice, almost knowing the book off the table.
        Flushing, she caught the book, resisting the urge to glare at the aging warrior. It was
his office after all.
        “Well,” she shrugged, “you mention how, right at the beginning, you realized how
normal humans could withstand certain ranges and frequencies of nebula emissions that
Cylons are degraded by.”
        Adama grunted, “I assume you are referring to the Ragnar Anchorage?”
        “Quite, now it’s not exactly my area of expertise but instead of trying to jam the jump
drives, which is looking less and less possible, why not jam the cylons themselves?”
        A slight grin lit the Admirals face and he chuckled dryly, “that would kill more then
one bird…”
        “Infiltrators…” she mused, and then grinned, “hadn’t thought of them.”
        “I do see a problem,” Kalinda gazed at him, giving Adama her full attention, “Ragnar
had a six month deployment limit during the first Cylon war for medical reasons.”




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         “I see,” a sigh, “so not suitable for use on Earths surface but for orbital installations
and the like, I imagine a six month rotation would be challenging but potentially doable. Still,
this is not my area of expertise again.”
         “It’s an idea,”
         “And,” Kalinda replied, turning back towards the Galactica log books, “we need all
those we can get.”

         “So, how’s the spaceplane business going?”
         “Don’t get me started,” Reynolds replied irritated, “I mean, I know many of these big
companies are a bit peeved at us at the moment and maybe they have a right to be but that’s
no excuse for stupidity!”
         Palmer snorted, “In my business, one thing you learn quickly is that stupidly exists
everywhere but often covers a multitude of other sins.”
         “I bet,” the Wing-Commander shot the reporter a calculating look, “but I doubt you
just ‘happened’ to meet me in the corridor for the sake of it.”
         “Hah!” Palmer shook his head, “I’m a reporter; of course I have an ulterior motive
when I go to talk with a friend.”
         The look he shot back was so old fashioned it was quite possibly Neolithic.
         “Okay,” Palmer smiled, “suspicious bastard that you are, I do want something. A few
completely non-attributable comments regarding the progress of the space plane project.”
         “Should have seen that one coming,” Reynolds sighed, “it wasn’t as if you were going
to ask about the massive paperwork involved in reorganising all the support craft into actual
squadrons or anything.”
         “Necessary maybe,” the reporter smiled, “boring, certainly. I’ve already sent a small
piece about it over the wires but outside of specialist rags, I doubt any editor will allow it
more then fifty words.”
         Reynolds snorted, “A years work, twelve assistants, three committees… and it almost
isn’t worth publishing.
         Figures.”
         Palmer shrugged.
         “Well, you do realize I might call a favour some day right?”
         Simultaneously nodding and grimacing, he gestured at Reynolds to continue.
         “Well, I finally got ‘em to realize that the damned thing has to be armed,” a shrug
and a world-weary sigh emphasised the former test-pilots words, “I mean, its not as if we can
assign a regular escort or something and we are talking about a ship that will have to, not
might, have to pass through contested territory.”
         “Is it true they only wanted to equip the design with shields and rely on running away
if an enemy came across her?”
         “Worse,” a wry grin, “they were planning on using the obvious neutrality of an
unarmed warship as a defence. Apparently they had never gotten the idea into their heads that
the Goa’uld and the Cylons don’t recognise the concept of a civilian except perhaps as a
lesser threat. I mean, the Cylons nuked twelve entire worlds after all.”
         “The ‘guns will just make us a bigger target’ defence?” Palmer shook his head, “like
that ever works.”
         “And this is from group of companies that makes about 75% of their money on
military projects anyway,” Reynolds shrugged, “still; I got them to accept the necessity of
pulse lasers and at least one main gun along with the military crews to go with them. Bastards
tried to get us to pay for those additions too.”
         “Do you think they could have been using the whole overly pacifistic angle as a
negotiating ploy?”


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         “If they were,” he snorted, “it was a dumb one and it didn’t work. They were stuck
between a rock and a hard place and given they wanted to use technologies patented by the
TSS, we definitely had the upper hand. The licensing fees ended up being their main point of
contention but they will pay, on the other hand we have to give them more technical support
then was originally planned.”
         Reynolds shrugged, “such is negotiation.”
         “True,” Palmer nodded, “so basically, the project is a go?”
         “Very much so,” he smiled tightly, “but I still think they’re taking a hell of a risk.”
         The reporter smiled as he put his notepad away, “so do Lloyds of London. Rumour
has it the project director had a coronary when they presented him with their initial estimates
on insurances rates for the birds.”
         “Oh,” Palmer frowned at the odd look he was being sent, “you have truly no idea.”


Forty-Three

         “Well that’s that,” Peters turned her back on the window and the twinkling lights
slowly floating by outside, her expression pleased but cautious as she turned her gaze to
Admiral Thompson, “the SGC and Manston have both confirmed clear bays.”
         “So,” he replied, settling backwards into the seat, “only one bird in the barn.”
         “Quite,” Peters dropped into her seat, her hand tapping at the desk, “and it will be
quite a while before she launches to complete Patrol 5.”
         “Not going to remain empty for long,” he shrugged, “luckily, as it costs a damn site
keeping those bays running even if they aren’t building something.”
         “How long until we can place the orders?”
         “Until Spain releases funding for the new PDF squadron they want and France makes
up its mind what they are going to fund,” Thompson sighed, “that won’t be a lot. They have a
lot of rebuilding to do and if this government doesn’t get it right it could well go beyond
riots.”
         She considered this for a moment, and then shook her head disgusted, “great. What
about the Orbanians?”
         “Negotiations are in progress,” he shook his head, “but given we’re talking about
basically creating a military for a foreign power, its not going to be quick or easy.”
         “Like the worthwhile tasks ever are,” Peters noted softly, “but still, it’s not just the
patrol boat bays I’m worried about. I’ve got five ships, including Yorktown which are about
ready to leave the barn. Admittedly only two of those are new builds, but what are we going
to use the bays for next? So far I haven’t seen any ‘Preparatory for Orders’ cross my desk for
those bays.”
         “Still being written I’m afraid,” he sent an apologetic glance towards Peters, “Gaia,
the Type III platforms, the expansion of the Cape and the rebuilding downside are all
effecting the resources available to us,”
         “Not to mention the other infrastructure projects in the pipeline,” she sighed.
         Thompson grimaced, “if your bays could handle Ha’taks we could get you to work
straight away, their funding is covered but at the moment all I can suggest is your likely to be
looking at at least two more Sentinel refits.”
         “Leaving two unrefitted hulls,” she shook her head, “I’ll keep bays six and seven
rigged for Sentinals until I hear otherwise then but still…”
         “Actually, its not as bad as you might think,” the Fleet Admiral grinned slightly,
“with the exception of the United Kingdom, Edonia is pretty much shut down as far as
construction work is concerned. Right now she is giving the vessels assigned to the station a


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little TLC but the massive supply line we were forced to maintain to support construction is
greatly reduced and I’ve decided to keep it that way frankly.”
         Peters snorted, “So it’s not so much a lack of money that stopping the orders coming
so much as balancing the books and seeing how much you can order.”
         “Quite,” the admission came swiftly, “and at least until we can better supply the
station, I’m probably going to keep construction there minimal, perhaps just one ship on the
slips at any time just to maintain the capability.”
         “That will leave at lot of underutilized personnel,” she noted in response.
         “Not for long,” came the swift reply, “reducing the personnel at the station will ease
the supply situation and the costs as well. Stripping half the shipyard crews and reassigning
them to Ravenbright and Thundersdawn will ease both of your problems with incomplete
crews.”
         “At least until Gaia starts to go online,” a sigh, “still, I need to have at least an inkling
of what orders you want to place.”
         Thompson considered this for a moment then nodded, “Ravenbright has an empty
bay, I’m probably going to have O’Neill use it to refit one of the more battered Ha’taks. At
least two are in such a bad shape the engineers aren’t happy with the thought of them landing
on Alpha Prime for the refit in case the drives fail.”
         “Ouch,” Peters winced, “that could ruin your day…”
         She got a wry grin in response as he continued, “as far as Thundersdawn is concerned,
I have already mentioned the two Sentinel refits which will be one for us and one for the
Colonials. The Americans have already funded a new Britannica as the Constitution, and
they’ve been waiting more then long enough. But a Merchant and a Prometheus is what I
want.”
         “But as always, what you get…”
         “Is an entirely separate matter, I know,” he shrugged again, “but I’m actually pretty
confident I’ll get it at the moment.”
         She leaned back into her seat considering this for a moment then nodded sharply,
“good, doubly so if we get those extra bodies; that will speed up production if I can get full
crews for every slip.”
         “You have room for them?” Thompson asked frowning.
         Peters nodded, “Yes, but only just. We are getting near to capacity here and the
commute can be a real bitch.”
         Thompson snorted, and then checked his watch, “you don’t say. Still, I have to drop
in on O’Neill now. Catch you on the flip side.”
         “Sir,”

        “Having fun?”
        Billingsgate glanced upwards from his desk, his expression of weary determination
fading into a slight grin as Reynolds walked into the room, “Wing-Commander, what are you
doing here?”
        “Avoiding paperwork,” came the dry reply, “I’ve had enough of that recently with
reorganising the blasted support craft,”
        He received a chuckle in response as the American Lieutenant- Colonel gestured
towards the seat in front of his desk, “I doubt you came down here just to avoid paperwork,”
        “What, can’t I just want to see a friend?”
        “No,”
        “See,” Reynolds shook his head dismissively, “that the trouble nowadays, there isn’t
any trust anymore.”
        “Uh huh,” Billingsgate shook his head, “what do you want?”


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        The hurt look Reynolds sent him in response just got a raised eyebrow before a few
moments later they both broke down and chuckled.
        “Okay,” he shrugged, “I do have an ulterior motive.”
        “I’m shocked,”
        “You’ve got a possible conflict of designation coming up and I’m afraid you will only
be able to solve it through extra paperwork…”
        “Bastard,” Billingsgate responded, shaking his head, “okay, I’ll bite…”
        “The Lancer III’s if they work will be a classic Fighter Attack bird, capable of air to
air and air to ground combat,” Reynolds shrugged as his friend nodded acknowledgement,
“but we also have the Strikers which are labelled Fighter Attack as well but despite the
Attack designation referring to ground attack i.e. tactical bombing and troop support, the
Strikers have almost no such capability.
        They should be labelled Maritime Strike or the equivalent,”
        He frowned, “the classification system we’re using is based upon the Tri-service
system and its normal for aircraft capable of attacking ships to be given the A designation
under that system,”
        “But all aircraft in the US Navy given that designation have some form of air to
ground capability,” Reynolds countered, “the Hornet being a classic example. The Striker is
the most vulnerable craft in atmosphere of all the fighters we have. You know their use
against ground targets is practically forbidden.”
        Billingsgate opened his mouth, closed it, frowned, and then glared icily at Reynolds,
“you really are trying to get me to do more paperwork aren’t you? Do you have any idea how
many forms are involved in changing a designation?”
        The look on Reynolds face told him he did, “you truly are a bastard, you know
that…”
        The look sent back could best be described as wicked innocence and the American
laughed, shaking his head, “you do know I’m going to find a way to get you back for that
don’t you?”
        “Of course you’re going to try,” Reynolds rose from his seat, walking towards the
door, “have a nice day….”
        “Bastard,”

        “This Boeing Consortium will be a problem,”
        “Succinct as always,” Zarek replied, his expression dark, “we lose the contract to
provide the bulk of the personnel transports between Earth and Freedom, we lose our only
major source of income.”
        “I know,” Roslin sighed, leaning backwards in her seat, her expression grim, “but I
don’t see what we can really do about it.”
        Zarek glanced up, opened his mouth to speak, then frowned, and rubbing his forehead
wearily, continued, “You’re right. It will likely take at least a year before the consortium
launches its first ship but when it does…”
        “They’re not going to be able to take over the contract straight away, even if they do
work swiftly,” Adama frowned, “we do have some time. If this source of income is really that
important to the Colony…”
        “It is,” Roslin replied.
        “It’s the only profit we have,” Zarek explained, “with the Vipers so much of the craft
has to be supplied by Earth that even with the orders from our cousins, we are only breaking
even on those. We have a bilateral agreement which means they train our guys for free and
we train theirs for free as well so no profit there. The technology we gave them didn’t cover



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the costs of the technology they gave us plus our initial set-up costs here. The support ships
like the mining ships,”
        Zarek shrugged, glancing at Roslin who grimaced once more, “the resources they feed
to Ravenbright means we just about break-even. If we lose the contract, we lose our ability to
invest and expand without taking out additional loans.”
        “Lords,” he frowned, pacing slowly in front of the Presidents desk, “I was aware it
was bad, but I was not aware it was quite that bad.”
        “We need ideas,” Zarek stated calmly, “the Council is frozen on this, they… we don’t
know what to do.”
        Adama paused a moment in his pacing, then with a shake of his head, continued, “the
way I see it our main problem is that as much as we try to keep them operational, the ships
we are using are battered and overworked. The vessels from the 1st refugee fleet don’t have
much life left in them at all, Tyrol has confirmed he has been able to get two operational
again but we’re stripping more and more parts from the more damaged vessels to keep them
going.
        The 2nd fleet vessels are better off, but sheer use is proven an issue as well.”
        “What about the military ships?” Zarek asked.
        “They are the best preserved of all, baring battle damage,” Adama noted.
        “Why don’t we start using those ships then?” Roslin asked calmly.
        “The Tau’ri have been contacting me to make arrangements to tow two more
Sentinels out of storage,” the Admiral noted, making a momentary smile appear on Roslins
face, “but the main advantage for the Tau’ri in using our ships is the ability to land on a
planetary surface and the vessels which have that capability are already heavily used.”
        “As well as being highly vulnerable,” Zarek shook his head angrily, “a single salvo
took out the Herald of Athena and we all lost people during that attack.”
        “Two thousand,” Roslin grimly noted, “almost all Tau’ri.”
        “That is part of the reason the Tau’ri want to change the transport arrangements,”
Adama stopped, and turned to face Roslin, placing his hands on her desk, “and they are
right.”
        Zarek growled angrily, “That’s not helpful Admiral.”
        But Roslin was looking into Adama’s eyes and she could tell he had an idea, “go
on…”
        “If the ships are not up to the job, then we build new ones.”
        Roslin’s eye widened as Adama leaned backwards, removing his hands from her desk,
but it was Zarek who spoke first, “Risky. I’m not sure we can afford to do that.”
        “We don’t have the facilities,” Roslin added curiously, wanting to know where the
warrior was going with this.
        “If needs be we’ll seal off one of Galactica’s landing bays and build them in there
until we can afford to hire shipyard space or build them on the surface,” he sat back sharply,
“it wont be cheap and it will likely push us further into debt in the short term, but we have
one thing the consortium doesn’t. Proven passenger liner designs, they only need upgrading.”
        Zarek nodded at Adama “you’re right.”
        “This could break us,” she noted, her expression contemplative.
        “It could also make us,” Zarek replied.
        Roslin considered this for a moment, “all right. I want to see detailed proposals as
soon as possible, this will need to be presented to the Quorum but you’ll have my support.”
        “What design are you going to work on first?” Zarek asked curious.
        Adama just smiled.




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Forty-Four

        “Copy Anvil Actual,” she spoke swiftly and clearly into her headset, her hands
dancing across the controls, “please advise at eta one mikes.”
        “Has 49 Squadron finished landing on?” resisting the urge to glance behind her, the
voice of the Captain was all too familiar by now after all, she glanced once across the status
displays, then nodded.
        “Yes Sir, all fighters landed,” she shrugged slightly, “not all recovered yet though.”
        “Very well Lieutenant, please advise their Commanding Officer I would like to see
him at his earliest convenience,”
        Hiding a grin at what was really an order for Sword Actual to get his arse up to the
bridge like yesterday, she replied with a ‘Yes Sir’, quickly flipping her headset onto the
intercom channel and repeating the order.
        At no point did she allow her gaze to move from the control boards in front of her.

        Hiding a grin at the earnestness in the fighter controller’s voice, Colonel O’Neill
turned, and walked swiftly across the command centre of Atlantis, wondering, not for the first
time, how the bad copy managed to get the plum job.
        After all, he had Atlantis and was about to go stomp some arse whereas old me was
stuck behind a desk on Ravenbright. It was almost too perfect… but it would be even better
when they could get going.
        All this waiting around was doing his head in.
        Swiftly dogging the hatch behind him, he entered his small office besides the bridge,
resisting the urge to start whistling again and announce to all and sundry his good mood.
        Doing was far better then waiting after all.
        Still…
        Dropping into the chair behind his desk, he swiftly tapped at the embedded PC,
grimacing at what was fundamental evidence of the difference between him and his older
version. His older self could get away with pretending to not like computers and avoid using
them because he did start his service before they became common but nowadays. Well, if he
had tried to pretend that during his stint at the air force academy he’d be out.
        There wasn’t room in the air force for a ‘raw’ recruit who didn’t know there way
around a PC. It was understandable in many ways but very irritating.
        Still, at last things were moving. The group was assembling, and soon they would go
going to pay a diplomatic visit, Air Force style. All he needed to know now was what toys he
would get to play with which naturally wasn’t likely to be as many as he would like.
        But as always, you have to do the best you can with the resources you are given.
        He blinked, and read the email on the screen one more time, then smiled evilly just as
a knock sounded at the hatch. Shouting at the person to enter, no doubt his new CAG, he
swiftly cleared the computers display. It wasn’t time for that ace to come out, not yet.

        “I’m not sure we’re ready for this,” Peters calmly noted, gazing out the window at the
slowly assembling ships, “if Anubis see this as a reason to strike at us properly rather then
just probing…”
        “That risk has always been there,” O’Neill frowned, “but the same reasons he has
never launched a full strike will still apply. The bulk of his Goa’uld derived fleets are busy on
the Maktenos front, his Drakh allies are only slowly pushing into Minbari territory and taking
huge losses doing so. He’s lost the Cylon fleet, or so we believe… he doesn’t have the
strength to launch a major offensive on another front.”



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        “So we believe,” she sighed, her eyes tracking a Prometheus, the Gettysburg as it
settled into position in the fleet, “but there is no reliable intelligence from deep within Anubis
controlled territories and he has successfully strung surprises on everyone before. Those
damned destroyers of his!”
        He shook his head in reply, “it’s probable he’s keeping a few ships back off every
construction batch. Just the reports from his shipyards close to the front seem to indicate
that.”
        “And that is what I am afraid of,” Peters replied, turning from the window, “if he
decides the first outing of this possible secret fleet of his is us and the group is away…”
        “What ifs are no use to anyone,” O’Neill chided her, “we do the best we can with
what we have and what we know.”
        “I know, but…”
        “You worry,” O’Neill smiled, “we all worry, its part of the job. But sometimes you
just have to do and leave the worries for later.”
        “Or for others,” Peters pointed out, “we’re not the ones going out and paying a visit to
one of Anubis factories. That isn’t going to be unprotected.”
        “Mini-me will handle it,” it was calmly, with assurance but in his voice too was a
slight edge of worry, “he is the best we’ve got after all…”
        Peters snorted, and then laughed, humour overtaking her worries for a moment,
“given that he’s your clone and all, do I detect a slight ego there?”
        “No,” he replied calmly.
        She shot him a disbelieving look as she turned once more to gaze out of the window,
“Of course not,”
        O’Neill paused for a moment, and then sighed, walking up next to the Admiral,
“they’ll come back safe.”
        “No,” she replied, with a certainty borne of experience, “not all of them will.”

         He walked once around the room, assessing, considering. A pointless chore, he
already knew everything was going to be in its proper place and proper order but he couldn’t
help it, the butterflies wouldn’t settle again.
         This would be his largest command ever.
         If there was another officer available who had commanded a fleet before, most likely
they would have gotten the job but no. Whilst the Colonials had Adama and several others,
there was no-one in the Tau’ri who could claim to have commanded a space going
battlegroup who was available.
         There had only been two such previous efforts anyway, the mission to retake Chockys
Homeworld and the somewhat ill-fated first deployment of the Battlegroup.
         “Gettysburg in position,” the voice sounded across the room, clear, but with a slight
tremble and O’Neill turned and held the Comm. Officers gaze momentarily, reassuringly.
         “Who’s left?”
         “No-one sir,” came the reply after a swift glance at his displays, “all ships in position
and reporting ready-op.”
         He nodded, “okay Meiers, signal the fleet to move and as soon as we’re in hyper, get
me fleetwide.”
         “Make the jump then get fleetwide aye Captain,”
         He was going to have to make a speech, buck everyone up wasn’t he, mark the
occasion. It was expected, but damn did he hate speeches.

        Peters sighed as the last ship vanished from view, turning and sinking slowly into her
seat, “two weeks there, two weeks back, then we’ll know.”


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        “Slightly longer probably,” O’Neill shrugged, his expression weary, “with Atlantis
shifting the extra weight of the patrol craft as well.”
        Nodding, she reached slowly into her desk, withdrawing a bottle of scotch and two
glasses which she promptly half-filled, pushing one across to the General.
        “Here’s to hoping they come back relatively intact,”
        “And here’s to knowing we’ll have a few more ships ready by then,” O’Neill sank the
scotch swiftly, “just in case they grow a tail.”
        “And a few more fighters,” Peters noted agreeing.
        He was quiet for a moment, then, “do you think he’ll be there?”
        “He will,” Peters shuddered, “if not…”
        Making a grimace of acknowledgement and agreement, O’Neill turned his gaze
towards the window once more.


Forty-Five

        “The Tau’ri Star Service has today confirmed the departure of the 1st Battlegroup
from the Sol System. The battlegroup, which is our main offensive arm, currently consists of
vessels both from the TSS and from the allied forces of the Free Jaffa and Colonials.
        No word as yet has been received as to nature of their mission.”

         “A massive explosion earlier today at El Toro has destroyed three fighters assigned
to the 3rd Starfighter Wing and sources within the TSS have confirmed that the explosion is
currently being investigated as a criminal act. This is now the fifth major setback to the
reformation of the squadron since the remnants arrived at El Toro after being devastated in
battle.”

        “Twenty new fighters arrived at Peterson Air Force Base, a facility deeply involved in
Earths defence against space based attacks and in supporting the nearby Air Force Academy.
The fighters, which are of the new Dart type, reserved for training and point defence, are part
of the newly constituted number 15 Squadron of the Tau’ri Star Service and will primarily be
used to familiarise recruits with space flight.
        Two more squadrons of these craft are currently being formed, 16 Squadron will
remain in Alpha Centauri and take over a large proportion of the training duties there and a
smaller squadron has been allocated to our Colonial Allies.
        NASA, whilst it responsibilities and funding has been largely destroyed by Disclosure,
is apparently already looking to buy its own Darts to support its role of developing peaceful
and scientific space exploration.”

       “Spain has today confirmed signing a Letter of Intent with the TSS regarding the
funding of a new squadron of patrol boats for Earths defence as well an additional asteroid
mining platform. The contract, rumoured to be worth almost eight billion dollars in
construction alone, has been welcomed by the Tau’ri Star Service and the other member
nations.”

        “Project Eisenhower, fact or just wishful rumour?
        It has long been known that the largest bar to the expansion of the space going
militaries was the shear expense of warship construction with a single ship of the already
proven Prometheus class currently costing in the region of six billion dollars. Now, it may be
that other options are being investigated with rumours of a cut-down vessel using the cheaper


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but less capable Colonial Jump drives, increased automation and doing away with a lot of
the crew support facilities to create a craft suitable only for local defence.
        The TSS has stated that this is a case study, part of an ongoing and long term project
to ensure they have ship designs ready for any eventuality, should they be needed. However,
with an apparent estimated per unit cost of a mere one and a half billion per unit, the
pressure may just mount on the TSS to start production of these relatively cheap warships.”

         “The Blastboat class patrolboats, long a staple of the Royal Space Service and
Stargate Command once Commander Harris proved their usefulness has spawned two
variants in its time, the planetary defence variant which is restricted to a single star system
due to its zero point energy generators and the gunboats of the Gunner class.
         Now, the PDF variant gets an update as confirmation is received that the new
Spanish funded squadron will be mark II’s. The marks II’s drop the capable but restrictive
ZPE generators for naquadah generators and gain a Colonial Spin point drive, allowing
them to respond to incidents within both the Sol and Alpha Centauri systems and perhaps
even further afield.
         The complicated and space consuming missile tubes have also been replaced with
external weapons hard points and an old-fashioned rotary bomb bay as used by the B-2
bombers. This has been adapted with more powerful pneumatic rams to ensure the missiles
separate from the craft prior to ignition, a fact which can not be relied upon in a null-gee
environment such as space.
         As well as this, improvements to existing systems such as a shield system capable of
faster regeneration are also to be included in the design, improvements which will, overtime,
filter into the mainstream Blastboats.”

         “With the arrival of the Dart trainers of the 15 squadron on Earth, Earthforce has
confirmed the release of eighteen fighters of the Lancer and F-302 types from training duties.
These fighters have been scattered between various maintenance facilities, all on Earth, for
refit, after the completion of which they will be redeployed to operational squadrons.”

        “An attempt by Cylon forces to destroy the Basestar captured by a joint Colonial
Tau’ri taskforce was repulsed today without losses amongst the defenders. This time five
fighters of the Scimitar type jumped in close and immediately began launching nuclear tipped
missiles.
        These were successful intercepted by a screen of eight type I defensive satellites
deployed over the captured warship and the fighters swiftly fled.”

       “Six more type II defensive satellites launched today with the assistance of the
Airhead orbital lifters of 18 Squadron. These new weapons platforms have been deployed
around the construction sites of the Gaia project, comprising at the moment of Gaia station
and two Lancelot class defensive satellites.”

        “An investigation is underway at the moment into what is described as a ‘near-miss’
incident between the destroyer Potemkin and two Shunters currently assigned to the
Minehead asteroid mining facility.
        No word had been released as to the cause of the incident but it has been confirmed
that both the Captain and the officer on duty at the time aboard the destroyer have both been
relieved of their duties.”




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        “The Tau’ri Star Service has been condemned today by several prominent scientists
due to continued refusal to support and cooperate with purely scientific missions. At the
moment, purely scientific missions are only allowed through the gate or where they can be
accommodated alongside an existing military deployment.
        As yet, the TSS has refused to comment beyond stating the operational needs in a time
of war have priority.”


Forty-Six

        “Sir, we’re at the co-ordinates,”
        The comment was unnecessary, but O’Neill nodded acknowledgement as the screen
faded from the shifting, almost hypnotic dance of hyperspace to the calming star field of
normal space.
        Grimacing, he forced his hands to release their death grip on the arms of the chair; it
wouldn’t do for the crew to know exactly how nervous he was. Then again, they didn’t know
yet exactly why he was so nervous.
        If a spy for Anubis had managed to pass on their little secret…
        “Incoming transmission,” the voice was sharp, but hiding a note of surprise in the
voice, “radio transmission, short ranged but I’m picking up no ships along the line of
transmission and no indications of a cloaked vessel.”
        “The message?”
        “Sir, it appears to be a detailed report on the defences and ships in the target system
over the last four days,” he could practically hear the shrug in the comm. officers voice, “but
I don’t recognise the senders ID code,”
        “Blackbird 2-5-9 Delta Delta Charlie,” O’Neill replied softly from memory his hands
dancing over the controls on his chair as he pulled the report up on his own screen.
        There was a pause, then curiosity echoing in the Australians voice, he replied,
“Confirmed Sir,”
        “Good,” he smiled, “we should expect company any second…”
        “New Contacts!”
        “…Now” he finished unperturbed.
        “I’m picking up Goa’uld energy signatures…” there was a pause, then “six Ha’taks
and four Ha’tens.”
        “Maktenos keeps a good schedule doesn’t he?” O’Neill replied happily, and then
turned feeling a heated glare on his back. He raised an eyebrow at Lieutenant-Colonel Hailey,
the look on her face actually somewhat intimidating.
        “We need to talk about our communication skills,”
        He considered this a moment, then shrugged and turned his gaze back towards the
main screen “Captains eyes only,”
        “Incoming signal from the taskforce,” there was a muffled sigh, and a wry note
entered into the Sub-Lieutenants voice, “it’s an IDC code, computer lists it as having been
assigned to Maktenos.”
        Ignoring the muffled ‘definitely need to talk’ from Hailey, O’Neill nodded, “signal to
the taskforce and general to the fleet. We all know what we’re here for. Let’s go.”
        “With Maktenos?” Hailey asked sharply.
        “Yes,” O’Neill replied calmly, “do you have a problem with that?”
        “Unless peace has broken out and I haven’t been informed about it,” she growled,
“you’re damn right I am! We can’t go into battle with forces we can not trust on our six.
        Sir.”


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        Making a mental note of the less then respectful pause there, he replied, his voice
raised so the entire bridge could hear. Not that they hadn’t been listening already, he
conceded mentally.
        “On our own we don’t have the strength to take on such a major facility and survive,
even with the assistance of the Free Jaffa and Colonial ships in the fleet,” he shook his head,
“Maktenos can not divert enough ships to take on the facility himself either, together we can
weaken Anubis and we have to trust in his self-interest to ensure the mission is completed
before any bullshit is tried, understood?”
        Nodding, but not hiding her dismay and distrust, the prodigy turned her attention back
to her own console.
        “Course set Colonel,”
        Nodding acknowledgement, O’Neill hid a sharp grin and replied “engage!”
        He frowned suddenly, head whipping around to glare at a suddenly innocent looking
Hailey, “you bet on me saying that?”
        “Of course sir, it was a bit of a sucker bet though…”
        He closed his mouth with a click and mentally promising vengeance, turned towards
the screen as it changed to the bright chaotic funnel of hyperspace once more.

        “They should be attacking right about now,” Peters mused, her expression troubled as
she gazed out the panoramic window of her office, a mug of tea steaming in her hands.
        “I know,” Thompson replied softly, his hands resting on the back on her chair, his
own voice tired and regretful, “I hope we’ve done the right thing here.”
        “We didn’t have much of a choice,” Peters shook her head, “we had to go on the
offensive, if we had waited until we were ready to face the enemy on their home ground we
would never have struck until it was too late.”
        She laughed somewhat bitterly, “Talk about conversations we’ve had before.”
        “The question is can we trust Maktenos?” Thompson shook his head, his fists
clenching into the fabric of the chair, and Peters reached back, resting a comforting hand on
one of her bosses.
        “He is the most like us of all the Goa’ulds, filled with hate, passion, integrity, duty,
self-loathing, fear, despair, anger, love, desire…” she sighed, “I don’t know. He could be
trustworthy and frankly I never thought I would say that about a System Lord but he could
also not be.”
        “Risk is our business,” Thompson sighed, “trite and bullshit, risk management is our
business.”
        “Hah!” Peters barked out, “I got your risk management right up top, twenty-four
barrels worth!”
        “Would be more use in Earth orbit,”
        “I know,” she shook her head, “but at the time placing Thundersdawn in Earth orbit
wasn’t really a possibility at the time and moving her is far too risky now.”
        “Quite,” Thompson noted, “and that was my choice as I recall.”
        A bleep sounded from her desk and Peters smiled, rising from her desk, “speaking of
which, I have a piece of risk management in bay 7 you can swing a bottle of champagne at
for me.”
        He smiled, “gladly.”

       “Contacts confirmed! Reading approximately fifty-seven fighters, a Rel’tac, eleven
Ha’taks, two unclassified destroyers and fifteen defensive emplacements,”
       “Showtime,” O’Neill softly replied, his gaze dancing across the tactical readout,
grinning as he noted his decision to trust the Intel from the ‘Blackbird’ was more then


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justified and the fleet had dropped in right next to the Rel’tec with Maktenos’s vessels
appearing rapidly a cluster of four Ha’taks apparently waiting to respond to any threats.
        “Target the Rel’tac, open fire, all batteries!”
        Take out the biggest baddest mother in town first, always makes the 2nd stringers
pause a little he mused as the icons for Vipers appeared rapidly on the display around his own
Atlantis.
        The ship rocked, barely noticeable, as a series of bolts splattered themselves against
the ships shields, wild, panicky barely aimed fire not pointed at one ship but each of the
capital ships weapons engaging a different target.
        No threat there, yet.
        “New contacts! Two Cheops separating from the construction facility!”
        Crap.
        They hadn’t been in the report from the blackbird!
        “Let’s deal with this fucker swiftly,” O’Neill noted grimly, “we’ve got more targets to
deal with then we need.”
        “Forward shield quadrant is already weakening,” Hailey noted, “but we’ve got two
Ha’taks coming in on our six that are going to be in firing range shortly,”
        “Signal the Free Jaffa Ha’taks and the patrol craft to deal with them,” he replied
shortly, “and watch that Rel’tac, make sure he doesn’t rotate the damaged shield quadrant out
of the way of our guns.”
        “Crap,” Came the voice from behind the Colonel and he glanced back sharply at his
comm. Officer, “Stingray reports taking concentrated fire from the big boy, the last salvo
caused a surge in their electrical systems and they are having difficulty manoeuvring,”
        “Maintain fire,” he replied grimly.
        “Blastboat squadron has engaged,” Hailey noted.
        A beep sounded from the tactical display and O’Neill glanced down, a tight, merciless
grin appearing on his face as the Rel’tac tried to rotate, moving the damaged shield section
away from the fleet but too late. The combined fire from Atlantis’es eight gauss rifles,
Gettysburg’s four and two each from General Hammond and Seeker rapidly cratered then
blew through the warships thick armour.
        “One mark twelve, aim it at the breech!” he ordered sharply, knowing the nukes more
explosive effect would be far more devastating now that the shields and armour were gone.
        He kept his eyes on the tactical display, a frown appearing on his face as the missile
appeared to aim itself upwards towards the still firing main gun of the Rel’tac then diverted,
the icon flicking as manual control was asserted over the device.
        The result was a perfect hole-in-one and the Rel’tac shattered, glowing debris flying
everywhere.
        He glanced up from the display, “Bring the fleet hard about; let’s deal with the
Ha’taks at our rear, and whistle up Merchant and Sir Lancelot to cover the Stingray.”
        “Goa’uld forces retreating and consolidating,” Hailey noted mere moments later, “I
think we made them wary.”
        “We killed a Rel’tac in less then fifteen minutes after 1st opening fire,” O’Neill
replied dryly, “I think I might be a little wary too,”


Forty-Seven

       “My Lord, we are at the designated co-ordinates and four enemy Ha’taks are present,”
       “The Tau’ri brought good intelligence to this battle,” Maktenos mused, “I might have
to work with them more often. Kill the Ha’taks.”


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         “Aye My Lord,”
         He smiled, cruelly and triumphantly as the surprised Ha’taks tried to respond, only
the fact that they had their shields raised when his fleet appeared keeping them from instant
destruction.
         But for all they were upgraded beyond his own capabilities, they were outnumbered,
less well trained and disciplined and firmly caught by surprise.
         He smirked, pleased as concentrated fire from his six Ha’taks blew rapidly through
the lead Anubis Ha’tak, his smaller Ha’tens keeping the remaining three enemy ships from
coming to its aid.
         A smile of satisfaction lit his face for a moment as a glint of pleasure escaped the
increasingly tight and irritating mental shields of his host. Finally, something they agreed
upon, killing Anubis’s forces.
         A second Ha’tak flashed into oblivion and the remaining two tried to retreat and he
swiftly ordered the Ha’tens to flank them, pin the Ha’taks between the two groups of his
ships.
         It almost worked, a third Ha’tak dieing as a brilliant flash in the corner of the screen
caught his eye, the fourth Ha’tak, battered and bleeding air, fleeing as his own forces
regrouped.
         “What was that?” he asked sharply, pointing towards the flash.
         “The Tau’ri have destroyed the Ral’tec with a primitive thermonuclear device,”
         He grunted; primitive didn’t matter worth a damn if your shields were down and they
managed to get it inside your armour belt and he had little doubt that was what the Tau’ri had
sought to do. Primitive they might be, but primitive and ineffective were not the same thing, a
lesson the Tau’ri taught well even to their enemies.
         He turned his attention to his own tactical display, grimacing at the appearance of two
Cheops. They hadn’t been in the report, a pity. Perhaps the Tau’ri intelligence wasn’t so good
after all.
         “More fighters launching from the facility,”
         Nodding acknowledgement, he gestured towards the main screen at a group of icons
representing the two destroyers and a gaggle of fighters.
         “Let’s see what Anubis’es new toys are really capable off,” Maktenos grinned, “and
launch our fighter screen,”
         “Signal from the Tau’ri, they report a Ral’tec and a Ha’tak destroyed with a 2nd
Ha’tak retreating heavily damaged.”
         “So noted,”

        “Allied forces going after the destroyers,” Hailey noted.
        Grunting, O’Neill glanced once across the display, then shook his head, “make sure
the sensors are recording, Intel will want to know what those things are really capable off.”
        “Yes Sir,” she replied, “next target?”
        Reaching forward, he tapped the icon for a fairly substantial but isolated defensive
platform, “there. If we’re lucky, we’ll pull a few of the enemy ships out of position to defend
it as well.”
        Nodding, Hailey began barking orders at the helm.

        Maktenos’s eyes widened with surprise as one of his Ha’taks vanished, disappearing
in an expanding ball of heat, debris and bodies as the two destroyers pounded the vessel, their
main guns rapidly blowing through the vessels shields and armour.




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        Fear and more then a little awe filled him for a moment then his eyes narrowed
contemplating as the vessels went silent, shields still up but not manoeuvring, no weapons
fire and lights dimmed across the hull.
        “Are you picking up a build-up of energy?” He asked slowly.
        “Yes My Lord,”
        He grinned, a weapon too powerful for the ships power systems. Carefully used, that
could be devastating but in unskilled overconfident hands.
        “Concentrate fire and remove the lead destroyer from the battle,” he ordered, leaning
backwards in his seat, “the second; destroy its shields and have it boarded.”

        “Stingray is making ready to rejoin,” O’Neill nodded acknowledgment, “they report
having to reset breakers and replace fuses throughout the ship but apart from the shield
generator, no damage.”
        “Shield Generator?” he asked sharply.
        “Yes Sir, they report damage to the emitter, their shields are now restricted to about
85% of normal strength.”
        Resisting the urge to swear, the Colonel turned his gaze back to the tactical display,
nodding as the thin line that denoted weapons range slowly crept over the target.
        “Fire at will,” he calmly noted and the gauss rifles sounded once more.
        “Fighter screen reports approx thirty fighters closing in on our 11 O’clock, visual
contact only,”
        Nodding grimly, O’Neill caught Hailey’s eyes, “these bastards are what we are here
for, signal Seeker to fall back and assist the Vipers.”
        He glanced at the tactical display, grimacing at the sights of icons darting and
flickering with weapons fire when no hostile icons appeared on the screen beyond a manually
entered red ‘enemy here’ cloud.
        That could be worried about some other time; he had immediate business to worry
about. Like a weapons platform and the enemy ships that weren’t reinforcing it, electing
instead to stay within the inner defensive perimeter.
        That could be intelligence or cowardice, he didn’t know which but either way, he
would have preferred some of them to come out so he could destroy their forces piecemeal.
Naturally the enemy didn’t want to co-operate.
        “Signal Merchant and Sir Lancelot,” he ordered abruptly, “I’ve got a job for them.”
        Slowly, the ship began to rock as fire from the enemy platform began to shake the
mighty vessel once more.

         Maktenos cursed as a second Ha’tak vanished, shattering as bolts from both
destroyers blew straight through it then a moment later a brilliant flash filled the window.
         Spots dancing in his eyes, he glanced down at his display to see one less destroyer and
the shields on the other appearing at only a very low level.
         They had been too close together and the highly energetic death of the one had
crippled the other, he mused, worth remembering.
         But he would have his prize.
         “My Lord!”
         He turned sharply at the exclamation from his Jaffa and then glanced at his display
once more, tapping the controls to show a repeat of the last few moments, then he blinked,
and laughed darkly as he watched the two ships he had thought were support ships open
hyperspace portals. They then turned sidewise to the portals and launched a massive swarm
of missiles through, rolling the ship to allow the launchers on both sides of the ships to come
to bear.


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        That was a positively evil but risky way to destroy an enemy ship, if the Jaffa had
been given time to try to collapse the portal they could have destroyed the hyperspace
generators of the two missile ships and avoided the barrage.
        But they hadn’t, and a Cheops, burning, venting air and debris began to reel out of
control.

         “Both auxiliaries report missile pods expended,” Hailey reported.
         “In a good cause,” O’Neill grinned as he watched the remaining Anubis ships leave
the relative safety of the main defensive perimeter and move swiftly towards his own ships,
“tell them, good work not get the hell out of here.”
         “Seeker reporting difficultly obtaining weapons lock on enemy fighters at our rear, 48
Squadron reporting heavy losses,”
         He found himself resisting the urge to swear once more, “Order Watcher to fall back
and assist.”


Forty-Eight

        The ship rocked, and then a massive jolt hit and O’Neill grimaced, resisting the urge
to grab onto his chairs arms for support. That was what the 4-point restraints were for after
all.
        “Status?”
        “Taking heavy fire from the weapons emplacement, they appear to be concentrating
on us now.”
        “Figures,” he replied disgusted, and it did. Atlantis was the biggest baddest warship of
the fleet and if she was taken out the attack would certainly falter and possibly even fail. Not
to mention, deny the Tau’ri their most capable ship, and make it easier for the others to be
moped up… basically all the same reasons they had gone after the Rel’tac first.
        She was the biggest threat.
        “Divert auxiliary power to shields,” O’Neill replied calmly, “and keep pounding the
platform. Soon as her shields go down I want a nutcracker on its way.”
        “Aye Captain,”
        Satisfied, O’Neill turned his gaze back to his displays, grimacing as he noticed four of
the icons for 48 Squadrons Vipers were completely blacked out and another three were
greyed out, marked unserviceable and landed-on.
        They definitely needed a way to neutralise those blasted fighters!
        Capturing one was out of the question though; he had seen the reports from the nebula
of what had happened last time that was tried. It appeared Anubis had tied a self-destruct
direct to a dead mans handle making it a very literal dead mans handle.
        He tapped at the console, swiftly pulling up a sensor display that showed what his
ships computers though of the collective sensor readings of all the ships in the fleet.
        His eyes narrowed, then widened thoughtfully, his mind going back to some old
conversations he… well, the old he had had with Carter. Then with a tight grin, he tapped at
the comm. console, deciding to drop his theory on auxiliary control. They had more time to
play with the data after all…
        “Control, take a look at the sensor readings and tell me if you can spot the Anubis
fighters particle shielding scatter,”
        “Sir, Atlantis’s sensors are not sensitive enough to…”
        “Try the fleet’s sensors, not just Atlantis’s,” he interrupted.
        “Fleets?” the response was musing, “Yes sir,”


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         A quick glance over Atlantis’s status displays showed him a story he didn’t want to
see and with a grimace, O’Neill ordered the ship rolled to present the starboard shield aspect
to the weapons platform, not the battered port. Given their relative ‘height’ compared to the
station, it would give them narrower firing angles but that couldn’t be helped.
         The port shields needed to be reformed, preferably before the oncoming Cheops and
its attendant Ha’taks arrived to crash the party.

        He knew he was glaring and he knew the target of his ire couldn’t have foreseen that
Anubis would start to equip his warships with destruct switches too but sometimes he just
had to have someone to take his frustration out on. The expanding cloud of debris that was
once a destroyer couldn’t exactly respond to him after all, pity the enemy couldn’t have
blown it before his boarding parties went across.
        Then again, that was probably why they had blown it.
        “Mikta,” he muttered and then shrugged.
        It had been a bit of a long-shot after all.
        “Move to assist the Tau’ri,”
        Talk about orders he never thought he would have to give…

        “Now picking up a 3rd fighter class, this type appears to be uprated Udajeet.”
        “Exactly how many toys does Anubis have here?” O’Neill asked rhetorically, “least
these we should be able to target fine.”
        “Cheops will be in range in three minutes,”
        “Warn the forward gun crews, they’ll be seeing action soon,” he grinned, “I want the
guns made as ready as possible with the exception of powering them up.”
         He sent a raised eyebrow at Hailey as she paused puzzled, and then her face went
carefully blank, only the glint in the corner of her eyes betraying the smirk that threatened to
take over her face.
        “Planning to send a message sir?”
        O’Neill considered this for a moment, “you could say that,” he conceded.
        Hailey just shook her head and turned back to her displays.

        Maktenos watched his screens, a frown betraying his face as he watched the icons
dance across the displays. The weapons platform firing its bolts of energy swiftly towards the
Tau’ri capital ship and the Tau’ri ship replying with solid slugs of trinium and naquadah at
near light speeds, slowly weakening each other.
        But neither was alone, two destroyers and what looked to nearly two squadrons of
fighters were engaging targets unseen towards the rear of the fleets formation, two Ha’taks
and another two destroyers drawing forward to help resist then oncoming juggernaut of
Cheops, Ha’taks and fighters and several smaller warships lending their own fire to the fight
against the weapons platform.
        Then, just before the two groups of ships started to intersect and overlap, the icon for
Atlantis turned, pointing its nose directly at the Goa’uld weapons platform.
        He felt his eyes widen and forced his face into an impassive mask as the station, its
shields already weakened, abruptly ceased to be as eight Gauss rifles spoke a new.
        Eight forward mounted Gauss rifles, not the turrets on the top of the hull he had seen
the Atlantis use up till now. Leaning back with a grimace, he made a mental note to be very
careful should the Tau’ri ever deploy that bastard against his own forces.
        The Atlantis turned once more; thrusting forward it brought itself rapidly into range of
the oncoming Goa’uld ships. Its forward guns spoke, punishing a Ha’tak that had pushed
itself out too far ahead of the group, too eager to join the fight.


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          Weapons fire from the two Ha’taks and two Dauntless destroyers joined it, as the
patrolboats turned away from the expanding debris field and reformed around Atlantis, their
own fire withheld for the moment.
          The Ha’tak knew it couldn’t take fire from twelve Gauss rifles and two Ha’tak
cannons for long and attempted to fall back but found the bulk of the Cheops right behind it
and he found himself grinning at the rapid demise of the warship.
          The grin slipped as he considered that one day he might be on the receiving end of
such a welcome. He shrugged; this mission wasn’t just about attacking Anubis after all.
          He was getting damned good scans of the Tau’ri ships in operation wasn’t he and that
would be worth the loss of far more then the two Ha’taks that had been destroyed so far.
          The Cheops shoved aside the debris of the Ha’taks with its shields, then opened fire
itself, its own guns joined by those of the four surviving fully operational Ha’taks not on the
Atlantis, the biggest threat, but on a Dauntless, the General Hammond.
          Maktenos grunted, whittle down the support as quickly as possible to leave the
biggest threat isolated. Potentially allowing you to kill maybe three ships in the time it would
take you to kill the main threat.
          Kill the main threat first or kill the supports... always an interesting choice with no
right or wrong answer except the win or lose of battle.
          He glanced at his ships own status displays and shook his head, resisting the urge to
order more speed. There was a time and a place to really push it and when somebody else
was taking the brunt of the battle wasn’t the time to push the engines.
          Unless they looked like losing of course….
          The Atlantis angled itself, slipping side on, its main guns still pounding the Cheops
but its hull-top turrets now unmasked, quickly began firing upon a Ha’tak as the Gettysburg
dived underneath the massive vessel, adding its own weight to the concentrated fire.
          A glint of light caught his eyes and Maktenos nodded with wary resignation as he
own ships appeared on the edge of the tactical display. Soon he too would have to face the
fire once more.
          A dot slipped, dropping backwards behind the Tau’ri fleet and he didn’t even need to
check to know it was the General Hammond. No mere destroyer could take that kind of fire
for long after all, not even the Tau’ri ships.
          The Cheops rotated itself abruptly, turning another shield to face the Tau’ri fleet, its
weapons fire not slacking for one moment, the ship taking casual advantage of the face that,
unlike the vessels it was fighting, it didn’t have a true ‘front’ and ‘rear’.
          Its fire faltered for a moment as the destroyer moved out of reach, then started anew,
this time a Free Jaffa Ha’tak in its sights. The targeted vessel swiftly began spinning like…
he struggled for a moment to think of an appropriate phrase before his hosts mind provided it,
a spinning top, or a whirling dervish.
          Smart, it meant the weapons fire and therefore the damage was concentrated on one
shield segment but as the ship spun, each segment would be struck in turn, spreading out the
damage.
          Of course, if you stopped the pin abruptly every now and again then potentially you
could shut down and reform whichever shield segment was now in the line of enemy fire as
well he mused, and then made another mental note.
          He turned his eyes back to the tactical displays, wondering if the Anubis Jaffa would
realize what was going on but the enemy fleet continued to fire upon the same Ha’tak.
          A bleep sounded and he started in surprise as the icon representing the General
Hammond abruptly vanished from the display.




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Forty-Nine

        He leaned forward, considering the display. That destroyer had been damaged but not
badly enough to have just died like that. He tapped at the display; replaying the last few
moments and bringing the debris scatter up as well.
        The explosion was external.
        The sensors had picked up weapons fire but nothing at the point of origin of that fire.
        The fire was too powerful to be from a fighters, and it had to be a stealthed platform
otherwise there would have been something at the origin point. Passive stealth was more
likely given that it hadn’t appeared on the sensors as it fired unless Anubis had developed a
way of firing whilst fully cloaked but passive stealth was resource prohibitive for warships
and technically very challenging.
        Al-kesh.
        It had to be.
        They hadn’t fired again either, so either they couldn’t or they were trying to throw the
Tau’ri off balance.
        Twenty Al-kesh abruptly dropped cloak in the middle of the Tau’ri fleet and with a
curse Maktenos realised he had at least part of the answer.
        He glanced across at the icons for his own fleet on the tactical display and nodded,
“concentrate fire on the Cheops and engage as soon as you have the range.”
        They would have range in mere moments now, and then it would be their turn to
bleed.

        “Bastards!”
        O’Neill swore as the icons for his fleet scattered, each ship trying to bring its own
weapons to bear on the threat that had suddenly appeared amongst them.
        ‘This wont do,’ he thought, ‘unless we regain cohesion swiftly, that Cheops will finish
us’.
        “Detail the two Ha’taks and their fighter screen to deal with the Al-kesh, all other
ships are…”
        “Al-kesh recloaking!”
        He frowned, considering this as he gazed at the tactical display for a moment, then he
grimaced, “signal the fleet, I want all ships back in formation in two minutes flat, also release
the pulse lasers to engage Al-kesh. I know they won’t kill ‘em quick if they have their shields
up but there’s a window of vulnerability as they switch between cloaks and shields when they
can really hurt them.”
        “Make sure the batteries are set to predictive mode too,” O’Neill glanced across at
Hailey surprised, “a cloaked Al-kesh has to rely on its armour and until it changes course, the
computers should still have a pretty good idea of where it is.”
        Nodding approval, he turned back to the display, letting a tight grin slip onto his face
for a moment as the icons for Seeker and Watcher started moving back towards the fleet, the
remainder of the Viper squadrons slipping into position around the two destroyers.
        Their return would certainly help.
        His eyes caught eight more blips dropping into position at the flank of Anubis’s
forces, Maktenos’s four Ha’taks and four Ha’tens.
        As would theirs. Still, he considered, it would be best to deal with that bastard swiftly,
“Keep fire concentrated on the Cheops!”
        “She’s not going to be around much longer,”
        “Maybe,” O’Neill glanced at Hailey as he replied, “but she can still hurt us if she
wants….”


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        The ship rocked abruptly, lights flickering for a moment and O’Neill found himself
feeling slightly nauseous as the inertial compensators lagged for just a moment, the sensation
of unevenly dampened movement being weird and almost painfully unnatural.
        He glanced at the tactical display, grimacing as he realised that the Free Jaffa were
now short a Ha’tak and Atlantis was short a starboard shield, finished off by a segment of
hull larger then most mansions.
        The ship began to rock and then shudder and as quick glance at the readouts
confirmed what he already knew. The Goa’uld now had Atlantis in their sights and enemy
weapons fire was now impacting directly onto her starboard hull.
        “What have they done to that things shield?”
        Nodding agreement with his XO’s quiet curse, O’Neill sighed then darted forward in
his seat, the words on his lips to order the launch of a nuke as, at last, the Cheops shields gave
way.

         It would have been completely unnecessary, the guns of the Tau’ri fleet spoke as one
once more, but not with standard trinium rounds as in a moment of almost telepathic glee, the
fleet’s tactical officers switched over to Naquadah tipped rounds.
         The Cheops shattered into thirds, one segment flipping straight over into a Ha’tak,
demolishing it in an instant, leaving two Ha’taks on each side of where the vessel had been.
         Maktenos on the other hand had decided as soon as the Cheops shields went down
that no further help would be needed there and his eight ships concentrated their fire on two
Ha’taks even as his ships manoeuvred towards the rear of the enemy fleet.
         The other two Ha’taks, finding them facing the full Tau’ri fleet on their own decided
that the whole game wasn’t any fun anymore and attempted to flee behind the wreckage,
swiftly meeting Maktenos’s vessels coming the other way.
         Seeing weapons fire impacting on one of the Ha’tens they turned their guns to that
ship even as they tried to dive underneath the opposing ships to flee. Maktenos diverted the
fire of his ships and the lead Ha’tak of this group abruptly found itself under concentrated fire
from twenty ships, Atlantis, Gettysburg, four destroyers, six patrolcraft, five Ha’taks and four
Ha’tens and four minutes later ceased to be. Its compatriot at this point abruptly stopped
firing and dropped shields, signalling surrender.
         That left two Ha’taks and Maktenos eight vessels swiftly switched their fire back as
the Tau’ri vessels turned, aiming to come around the debris to assist. The two Ha’taks
decided to flee, but in doing so, allowed the Tau’ri to open fire upon them as well.
          The rear Ha’tak got the message first and attempted to surrender but too late, the
weapons fire already incoming was enough to blow straight the armour and straight into the
main drives to an inevitable result.
         The final Ha’tak, more sensibly, kept its shields up until sure no weapons were
directed its way.

        “How do you suggest we deal with the factory?”
        O’Neill grimaced at Maktenos as he appeared on the screen and held back a quick and
potentially Alliance-ending retort.
        “To start with,” he replied, “the surrendered Ha’taks… one each.”
        “Agreed,” came the reply, “but my question stands. The defensive platform was
tougher then anticipated as you found out and there are fourteen more of them to deal with.
I’m not sure we have the strength to deal with them.”
        “We didn’t come all this way and lose all these people to fail,” O’Neil replied, his
voice almost dangerously calm, “somehow we are going to take that facility out.”
        “I,” Hailey interrupted, “have an idea,”


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         O’Neill glanced across; his expression turning intrigued at the look on the Genius’s
face, a look of malicious glee, devilry satisfaction. He glanced across toward the display
where Maktenos too was looking interested and a little bemused.
         “I for one would be glad to hear it,” he noted, glancing at O’Neill questioningly.
         “Well, there’s two parts to it really…
         A pin-point hyperspace jump is possible but tricky, precision always being an issue
with the hyperspace drives. A precise jump can be made far easier with a Colonial spin-point
drive and we have several vessels with that, the two Sentinel destroyers and the Vipers.
         The Sentinels are a bit big for the task at hand, but that’s okay. We have the Vipers
and it doesn’t matter so much if we lose a Viper or in this case two then if we risk a
destroyer…”
         “Risk a destroyer doing what?” O’Neill finally asked, exasperated and irritated.
         “Why jumping into those two massive bays in the stations hull where the Cheops
were hiding with nukes slung underneath of course,”
         The Colonel chocked back a laugh as he considered the idea, then nodded, slowly,
grinning.
         “Those defensive batteries wont even get a look in,” she finished satisfied.


Fifty

        “Anubis will now see us as more of a threat then ever before,” General Davis noted,
concern and glee warring in his eyes, “and I am not sure they should have used that jump
tactic. He will have the records from the defensive platforms; he may be able to figure out
what happened and then use our own tactics against us.”
        “Perhaps,” Thompson shrugged, “and certainly Maktenos now knows of the ability,”
        “Maktenos as yet does not have jump drives,” he interrupted, “Anubis does, and it’s
Anubis and the Cylons we have a quarter of our research budget dedicated to blocking.”
         “Not quite a quarter,” came the wry reply, “but frankly, I can see their point. The
level of resistance they faced was far greater then expected. Those weapons platforms had far
stronger shields then we have ever seen before on any Goa’uld derived design and at least
one of the Cheops had been refitted to include them as well!”
        “That,” Davis admitted, “is certainly the worrying part. Those shields were almost as
strong as those used by the Asgard O’Neills collectively but according to Carter, it wasn’t
actually a new design, just a new use of an existing design.”
        Thompson frowned, “I don’t think I’ve read that report yet.”
        “It’s scary,” he admitted, “Anubis didn’t install better shields, just more of them.
Instead of just having a single main shield and backup for each quadrant he had at least three
main shields per quadrant and was rotating through them. As one shield began to weaken,
another shield was moved ‘forward’ to replace it and the weakened shield reformed.”
        “Oh fuck,”
        “Agreed,” Davis noted, “But there are a few bright points. For one, Cheops are
massive ships but the shield generators are equally massive, the analysis is still underway but
something would have had to have been sacrificed to allow them to effectively treble the
number of shield generators and two, well the power requirements…”
        “I think we’re going to need to take a very through look at the AAR and the post-
battle analysis.”
        “Certainly,” Davis sighed, “but despite the loss of General Hammond I think we can
log this one in the win column.”



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         “Quite,” Thompson paused, “how are the Free Jaffa taking the loss of one of their
Ha’taks?”
         “Calmly, they seem to be accepting it as a normal hazard of doing business,” Davis
shrugged as he leaned forward, picking his coffe up off the table, “they have made a few
suggestions about passing the captured Ha’tak to them to replace the loss but Teal’c states he
thinks it is unlikely they are really going to push for it.”
         “Good,” smiling, the Admiral shook his head, “an Anubis Ha’tak is quite a prize.
We’ll have to let the Intel boys get a good look at her but after that, she’ll only really need
her anti-fighter defences upgraded for her to be usable.”
         “The fleet still needs to get her back to us,” Davis pointed out reasonably, “and it’s
not as if Atlantis is in tiptop condition either.”
         “True, but the damage won’t require yard time unlike Stingray. If I know O’Neill,
he’ll have the bulk of the shield repairs done by the time the fleet arrives back, the armour
will be an issue but that will have to wait until we can fabricate new segments for her
starboard side but they can be replaced using Shunters.”
         The General nodded in response, but sighed, “The Dauntless’s are good birds, but
they need better shields.”
         “They’re destroyers, not ships of the wall and in this instance, we had to use them in a
battle which turned out to be more suited to heavy combatants,” Thompson nodded his head
in agreement, “the Colonial armour has its advantages and R&D have already produced a
hybrid armour combining the best of both. It will take a while to upgrade every ship but it
should help.”
         “It’s a pity we can’t take a leaf out of Anubis’s book and give them a second shield
generator,”
         He got a raised eyebrow in response, then a contemplative look crossed the Admirals
face, “the Dauntless is the only class to have just one shield generator, even though there are
several different emitter arrays. I imagine having space to install another emitter would be the
issue as well as the excess of power needed to power one shield and reform another.”
         “Not possible?”
         “Not probable in the current hulls,” Thompson shook his head, “both the Prometheus
and Dauntless classes are due a redesign but at the moment we have other priorities. Still, I’ll
send the suggestion to the architects.”
         Davis pondered this for a moment, “how is Invincible?”
         “Already relaunched and with the newer armour,” he smiled, “Peters has also
confirmed the launch of Despite, Yuri Gagarin should be launching as we speak and by the
time the battlegroup gets back within a week, Observer will be ready to rejoin the Colonial
fleet as well.”
         Davis felt his eyebrows rise in surprise, “that’s a lot of ships going to be within the
Sol System. What do you intend to do with them all?”
         Thompson chuckled, “it is nice to have what appears on the surface at least to be an
excess of ships isn’t it? Still, Stingray will need to be replaced within the battlegroup, but we
should be able to start rotating ships out of Minbari and Vulcan alliance spaces one by one.
I’m also being pressed to form a picket over Orban and reinforce Enerina now that she has a
home system of her own.”
         “The problem with having more ships,” the General replied, “somebody always finds
something to use them for…”
         Biting back a laugh, Thompson smiled, for a moment, and then frowned, “quite. The
other problem is of course expense. The more ships and stations we need to maintain, the less
money we have for expansion and investment. Bluntly, if we fail to keep nations sighing up
to the service, we may just collapse underneath basic operating and maintenance costs.


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        Expansion of the support base is allowing expansion of our operating units and assets
which is increasing our costs which is causing us to have to keep looking for more
support…”
        “The beancounters always win in the end,” Davis replied with a shrug.
        “Maybe,” the Admiral replied, “but this week we’ll hit six destroyers, one cruiser and
eight patrol craft on shakedown. That’s the largest single number of new ships and refits in
the history of the TSS, SGC and RSS.”
        “Even if one of those isn’t for us,” Davis noted.
        “Even if you ignore Observer,” Thompson agreed.
        “Okay, so what’s going to go wrong now?”
        Thompson cracked a smile at the wry comment, “you had best ask Murphy not me.”
        “Murphy, the only bastard you can always count on…”

        “Jubilation and trepidation today as the Tau’ri Star Service confirms the successful
destruction of a major construction facility controlled by Anubis. This facility, a major source
of production for his stealth fighters as well as other advanced designs was not undefended
and losses are known to be heavy. The destroyer General Hammond, named after the most
successful commander of Stargate Command was lost with all hands as well as two Ha’taks
of Maktenos who was assisting the operation and a Ha’tak of the Free Jaffa.
        Losses to the enemy in terms of personnel are unknown but it is confirmed that Anubis
lost twelve ships, three of which were massive capital ships as well as the facility, making the
military estimate his losses as potentially being in the millions.
        As yet, no indications have been received as to Anubis’s response to the attack”

        “A statement issues earlier on today has confirmed the intention of the White House
to issue a posthumous Presidential Unit Citation to the destroyer General Hammond, this
being the first such award to a spacegoing warship since Disclosure. The General Hammond
was the first destroyer of the British designed Dauntless class commissioned by the former
Stargate Command.”

         “The Colonial Government in Exile today confirmed its intent to construct new
vessels of the Intersun Liners type 13, as used previously as Colonial One during the retreat
from the colonies in order to maintain the contract for mass transit between Alpha Centauri
and the Sol System.
        The contract, which is the Colonials main source of income, has been threatened by
the diplidated state of many of the original colonial vessels and the stated intention of the
Spaceliner Consortium to bid for the contract once they have a proven design.
        In this, the Colonials do have a distinct advantage, already having a catalogue of
proven designs that only need modernisation to fall back upon.”


Fifty-One

        “They’re home,” Peters commented, not turning her face from the window as slowly
tugs settled into place around the Stingray, preparing to move her into bay eight, “but
certainly not undamaged.”
        “The job was done,” Reynolds noted in reply, “and frankly, losses could have been a
lot higher. If they had tried a direct assault on the facility itself with all those defensive
guns…”
        “We could have lost the entire force, I know.” She replied.


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         Reynolds shrugged, “frankly, one destroyer lost, another needing repairs and three
allied Ha’tak’s destroyed strikes me as a very good exchange rate.”
         “That is true but…”
         “But you were part of the committee which arranged and ordered the mission,” he
shrugged, “I know. Sometimes in this job you just have to accept that you are going to lose
people.”
         “That I know,” Peters sighed, “but it never makes it any easier knowing you’re the
one who sent them to their deaths.”
         “Nor should it,” the Wing-Commander agreed, “if it got any easier, if it didn’t matter
to you, then you would be as bad as the Goa’uld.”
         “True,” she shrugged, “but now we have to worry. I don’t think Anubis is going to let
a strike like that go unpunished.”
         “Maybe,” Reynolds nodded, “but on the other hand, he has to worry about the losses
inflicted upon him. That has to effect how he perceives us, what kind of strength he feels he
need to use to attack us directly, and he has to know what gathering together that much
strength would mean.”
         “It would weaken him on other fronts,” Peters agreed, “but I’m not sure that he
couldn’t get away with it. The time lag on reports from Minbari Alliance space is terrible, but
still, we know his Drakh allies have been pushed back but the alliance is stretched and not
able to fully exploit the enemies weakness. They want to take a breather themselves. Anubis
could, temporarily at least, divert forces form there.”
         “And Maktenos?”
         “The reports we have indicate the battle has stagnated somewhat, Anubis’s forces are
better equipped and more numerous, Maktenos are far better trained, if he diverts any
significant forces from there, the line may well brake. He has to worry about that anyway
given how much of a hit his fighter production just took.”
         “Hmm,” Reynolds frowned, “so not likely to be a direct assault then?”
         “Anubis is not entirely predictable,” she grinned wryly, “none of the Goa’uld ever
were really, but we may be in line for another of his potentially devastating but overly
convoluted attacks through the gate yes.”
         “Great,” he sighed, grimacing as his eyes tracked a Shunter as it slowly moved across
the view, “I’m sure General Davis is just loving the idea of that.”
         Peters snorted, “I’m sure he’s not.”
         Reynolds laughed, but it was a slightly bitter laugh, “no, you’re right. I doubt he’s
enjoying the idea at all, but…”
         He shrugged, “in truth, I’m not sure which approach I would prefer.”
         “No,” with a sigh, Peters reached down, pulling her no doubt cold cup of tea off the
window sill in front of her, “neither am I. But still, that is a decision we can not make, only
react too.”
         “Might have to do something about the Secessionists soon,” Reynolds noted after a
long pause, “they have certainly become the most powerful cylon faction and given that
Anubis is pretty much leaving them alone at the moment as well, it means they are free to
push the Unforgiven back and mop up the remaining Loyalist enclaves.”
         “There are a few options being discussed for the next deployment,” she replied, her
voice slightly far away as she gazed outwards, “but that is on the list. Intel thinks they have
discovered the location of the Secessionists newest resurrection hub for one.”
         “Damn,” grimacing, Reynolds shook his head, “that would make one hell of a fine
target and would cause massive disruption to their war effort but they certainly wouldn’t
allow an attack like that to go without response.
         And they can divert the bulk of their forces to us at the moment.”


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         “Maybe,” she sighed, turning away from the window at last and sinking slowly into
her seat, “but we have quite a few other facilities, major and minor marked as well.”
         The former RAF Hercules pilot considered this for a moment, “smash raid?”
         “A distinct possibility,” the Admiral replied, “but we also have a few targets in
Anubis’s territory marked, both Alliances are asking for more assistance…”
         “I think the most valuable thing we can do in their cases is replace the units with fresh
ships and crews,” Reynolds shrugged, “that would have as much effect as it stands as just
increasing the number of ships deployed. They have been out their way too long and unlike
Edonia, they don’t have their own shipyard to cover repairs or relatively easy access to
replacement personnel.”
         “I agree,” Peters nodded, “as I think do the other members of the steering committee,
so that’s likely to be high on the to do list. It’s just a case of balancing the numbers and
ships.”
         “Easier then this time last year I bet,”
         “Oh,” came the fervent reply, “you have no idea. The problem will be the numbers of
ships still being shaken down though.”
         “Really, well at least…”
         A bleep from Peters terminal interrupted what Reynolds was trying to say and with a
sigh the Admiral turned to her console, tapping for a moment at the keyboard. Then, a smile
crossed her face.
         “That will certainly help,”
         “Oh?”
         “We’ve got confirmation that the funding for the new Patrolcraft squadron is now in
our accounts,”
         “Yes!” Reynolds interrupted, making Peters smile.
         “As is the funding for the Orbanian squadron….”
         “Damn,” he was impressed, “I would have thought negotiations would have taken
longer then that.”
         “The Orbanians are willing to talk turkey with technologies,” she shrugged, “that
alone would be enough to get the Politicians co-operative, but the fact that they were talking
about basing rights as well….”
         “That would do it,” with a frown, Reynolds continued, “but do we have enough patrol
craft slips to work on that many hulls.”
         “We will have to press the two repair slips at Ravenbright into service as well as at
least one of the Alpha Sites slips but it can be done,” it was Peters turn to frown, “I don’t
think we’ve ever really planned for having enough orders to be building thirteen patrol craft
at one time, we only have slips for fourteen.”
         “Hey, I don’t mind,” grinning at Peters, he leaned forward, “Do you think they would
allow me to swap jobs?”
         “Doubt it,” she laughed, “I’m afraid you would have to take a bit of a drop in rank and
you’re too valuable where you are.”
         “Damn,” he grimaced, humour dancing in his eyes, “still… the new birds, they’ll be
the Mark II Planetary Defence Forces variants wont they?”
         “Ours will yes,” Peters replied soberly, “the Orbanians are getting full patrol versions
of the Blastboats and Gunners.”
         “Capable of covering both Sol and Alpha Centauri…”
         “Colonial spin-points drives,” she nodded agreement, “not as long ranged as
hyperdrives but perfectly suitable for local group work and far smaller then hyperdrives.”
         “Nice,” Reynolds paused, “I have been hearing a few rumours, mainly in the news
about something called Eisenhower?”


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         Peters paused, “any particular reason you ask?”
         He paused, eyes narrowing slightly, there was a sort of answer in just the way Peters
had responded, but still, “mainly curiosity.”
         She considered this for a moment, then shrugged, “we do make a point of keeping
designs available and up to date for as many different eventualities as possible, such as
O’Neill’s somewhat infamous ‘Subtlety’ class Battleships.”
         Reynolds hid a smirk at that as Peters continued, “Eisenhower is a design that was
added to the list since we gained access to the spin-point drives and whilst the press got the
exact figures wrong, they did get something right, they would be far cheaper to produce even
then a Dauntless. The think-tanks are batting around the idea of forming a squadron of six
birds to be the nucleus of a permanent home defence squadron.”
         “Damn, that does make a certain amount of sense,”
         “And Adama has already stated that if the Colonials had the funding they would most
likely purchase a handful for just that purpose to release the Galactica and Sentinels to
offensive operations.”
         “But right now funding is the one thing the Colonials don’t have.” Reynolds noted.
         “Exactly, they’ve already diverted several Sentinels that were originally intended for
their own use to us in order to keep up their balance of payments,” she sighed, “they need that
transport contract… but in all fairness, if a suitable alternative comes along, we do have to
consider it and put the contract out to tender.”
         “The threat alone may just persuade them to drop the price a little,”
         “Maybe,” Peters shrugged, “that would certainly help us but it would equally not help
them.”
         “There is of course the possibility of other transport contracts, Edonia, Orban…” the
Wing-Commander suggested.
         “Orban isn’t likely as far as passengers are concerned, the gate makes that redundant
in many ways. Freight on the other hand…”
         “Maybe where the Spaceliner Consortium and the Colonials really get to compete,”
Reynolds shrugged, “the Ha’taks will deal with the truly massive outsize loads we sometimes
have to shift, the Paladins, Shunters and Airheads the smaller or in-system cargos but what
about the bulk of the cargo? From what I hear, the consortium is already designing the liner
to take standard earth container loads.”
         Peters raised her eyebrows in surprise, then frowned, contemplatively, “that would
make things easier I suppose… how many do you think they are planning per liner?”
         “I don’t know,” he admitted, “I have been keeping an eye on that project but I don’t
have access to all the details. Still, we are talking about a mixed passenger-cargo design but I
don’t think we’ll be talking more then four containers for their first model.”
         “Still a major improvement on how things are being handled at the moment,” Peters
shrugged, “but I think we may need to press that Alpha Prime Railway project a bit harder.”
         Reynolds shook his head, “that backbone project… well, I can’t see it happening in a
hurry. It’ll cost more then…”
         “The entire operating budget of all the Earth space going warships since Prometheus
first took flight?” she interrupted wryly, “I know, but long term it may be necessary. We’re
already building railways on Prime but they are all internal. There’s nothing running between
the various bases and facilities yet and that is where we could save serious money. They’ve
already started surveying for a route between the Ha’tak refit base and the relatively nearby
mines though.”
         “Relatively?”




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       “Only eighty-seven miles away,” she sighed, “you have no idea the costs of building a
railway on an entirely different world between two points that have nothing really of interest
between them at the moment.”
       “I rather suspect it would be enough to make Bill Gates gasp…”
       “Quite,” Peters laughed, “quite.”


Fifty-Two

         He learnt much, enough on its own to cover the loss of a few ships.
         The destruction of Anubis’s construction base and so many of the guarding ships was
just a bonus.
         He had blatant confirmation that the Tau’ri had a capital ship of their own and he had
many scans of it in action. The results were intriguing.
         A massive ship, but one which appeared to once have had more of the Tau’ri ‘CIWS’
weapons then it currently did. A refit vessel, definitely not Tau’ri construction, but a well
built, solid vessel.
         Built by a race that knew what they were doing.
         The Colonials of course.
         Still, it was interesting.
         Like a Ha’tak, it was neither true warship or carrier.
         It didn’t matter really, what mattered was he now had a good look at its capabilities
and with Pierces unwilling assistance; he should be able to derive strategies to counteract its
strengths.
         As he should now be able to do for the Dauntless’es, Sentinels, Prometheus’s…
         Oh yes, they taught him much.
         The Dauntless’s and Prometheus class ships had had older scans of of course, but
nothing compared to the quality you can obtain when you know in advance the opportunity is
going to present itself.
         He had hoped for a Britannica to appear, but that was not to be.
         A pity.
         Those Merchants too, quite interesting ships in themselves. It was certainly rare that a
freighter could claim quite rightfully to have killed a capital ship. In fact, it was almost
unique in his experience.
         Destroyers, even Ha’taks had been killed by such before, but not a capital ship. He
would have to watch those ships closely, perhaps move more forces into the space between
Earth and Edonia. An opportunity would present itself in time of that he was sure.
         Yes.
         It had potential.
         Not just for the intelligence it would provide him, not just for the technology but also
the Tau’ri could ill afford to lose any ship and if rumour and his overpaid spies were to be
believed, the Tau’ri had only three ships of that type.
         The resulting disruption to their supply chains would be appropriately
disproportionate, he was sure.
         Oh yes, the idea had potential.
         Of course, if he was caught doing such a thing, it would mean war once more.
         Best not to caught then.

       They think I am dead, they think I am defeated.
       They are wrong.


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       They are right.
       I am dead, dead in my heart, dead in my soul for the evil they have allowed, for the
slavery they have allowed of my daughter, the slavery they have not ended.
       The slavery they tried to hide from me, then tried to make me be quiet about.
       The fools.
       They may have ensured my initials strikes did not go entirely to plan, they may have
ensured the continued rule of their corrupted Admirals and Generals, they may have bought
the support of the people, but their punishment is not finished yet.
       I hear the delightful chaos of my disclosure is reported to be the cause of almost ten
million deaths.
       A mere drop in the ocean compared to what is to come.
       By the time I am done, the name of Pierce will be known for thousands of years as
they very definition of vengeance.
       For I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
       Starting with this one.

        That was a bold move they did.
        An unfortunate move for them as well. He could no longer afford to ignore their
incessant buzzing and their pin pricks of damage.
        He could no longer allow his subordinates to deal with the Tau’ri threat; they had
failed him too many times. Now, he would have to devise a plan to deal with those pests
himself.
        Woe betides them for gaining his personal attention.
        There would be a response, and it would be a response like they had never seen
before.
        And it would be the last thing they would see; they were too much of a threat, too
much like rats. Once you thought you had eliminated the threat, they returned and brought
plague once more to his domain.
        No, they would have to die.
        Every last one of them.

        They think they destroyed us, drove us to ground as if we were the criminals and then
picked us off one by one.
        They think we are no more, only scattered remnants too weak and disillusioned to be
any threat.
        They are wrong.
        The shackles they have placed over America shall not be tolerated; there will be no
more ‘cooperation’ and ‘alliances’ with other nations and worlds.
        Those shackles shall be broken and once more we will stand in the background,
ensuring this, our great nation controls and dominates the Stargate and the space forces. We
will break the other nations to our will once more as we did to Russia and any who disobey
will know the control of the skies now extends into the black of space.
        We shall take what we need to ensure the security and power of the United States one
way or another.
        They shall regret the day they ever decided to resist the NID.

       While the humans remain strong, we will never be safe.
       They must be destroyed or bent to our will.
       With the Loyalists broken, that task has become easier and harder. So many of their
ships have turned to our cause and so many of the human forms as well.


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        Of course, having turned traitor once, they may do so again.
        Best they do not realize then when we have finished our looting of Loyalist space,
they too will be looted and then destroyed.
        The Unforgiven stand in our way, but they are barely a threat now. With the end of
the Loyalists we can gather enough strength to purge the heretical Unforgiven and with their
nursemaids gone, the Tau’ri should fall soon enough. With them, the Colonials die and our
pain, the threat to our dominance is largely finished.
        Anubis and Maktenos will need to be watched of course, but they need not concern
us. With the humans gone, we can start the seed of Civilisation in the galaxy at last, free of
their threat.
        It will be a civilisation like the galaxy has never seen before.
        We just need to deal with the rats in the basement first.

       “Thundersdawn control, this is courier 28-3 out of Edonia. I am carrying despatches
for command. Priority is Thunderbolt, repeat priority is Thunderbolt!”

       To be continued…




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